Australia's army chief is being sent overseas 'to apologise', says Indonesia's head armed forces

Elite Indonesian army special forces command known Kopassus stand in formation. Photo: Romeo Gacad/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Australia’s chief of the army Angus Campbell is reportedly being sent to Indonesia to deliver findings of his review into an incident that triggered Indonesia to suspend all military cooperation with Australia.

Campbell is also reportedly set “to apologise” for insulting documents at a Perth military training base, according to the head of Indonesia’s armed forces, general Gatot Nurmantyo.

Gatot announced in Indonesia that Campbell would be coming to Jakarta to apologise personally to the head of the Indonesian Army and to himself.

The Australian Defence Department has not confirmed Indonesian reports of an apology, although defence minister Marise Payne says Australia has expressed regret over a diplomatic row.

“The material has most certainly been removed. The training is not currently occurring and I expect it will be replaced with appropriate material in due course,” Payne said.

On Thursday, Indonesian president Joko Widodo confirmed the country has temporarily suspended some military activities with Australia but said the bilateral relationship “is still in good shape”.

“Only at the (military) operational level does it need to be managed so the situation does not heat up,” he said.

Malcolm Turnbull responded to the president’s comments saying the defence partnership is important to both countries and Australia remains committed to strengthening ties with Indonesia.

“I look forward to this matter being resolved as soon as possible. I acknowledge and value president Widodo’s commitment to the strategic partnership between our two countries and value our personal friendship.”

The military co-operation suspension comes after an Indonesian special forces instructor was insulted by training materials allegedly mocking Indonesia’s founding principles, the Pancasila.

Payne also dismissed Gatot’s claim that he axed an Australian training program out of fear his troops would be recruited, saying: “That is clearly not the case, and not a matter which I think merits significant canvassing.”

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