A visa-free stalemate for Australia and Indonesia !!

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AUSTRALIANS travelling to Bali will still have to fork out $50 in visa fees, despite Jakarta’s willingness to scrap the charge.

THAT’S because Canberra is refusing to make reciprocal arrangements for Indonesian citizens.

The Indonesian government has announced visa fees will be scrapped for tourists from Australia and 46 other countries from October.

But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has ruled out changing Australia’s no-exemptions policy for tourists from any country.

Ms Bishop discussed the issue with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi at a “warm and constructive” breakfast meeting in Sydney on Thursday.

“She explained that Indonesia would love to provide Australia with visa exemptions, but unless they got reciprocity, they wouldn’t be able to do so,” Ms Bishop said.

“Our policy is across the board – there are no exemptions.”

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The pair also discussed trade, investment and counter-terrorism efforts.

Ms Bishop insisted Australian and Indonesian bilateral relations were now in good shape.

The lines of communication between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President Joko Widodo were now “fine” following a strain earlier this year ahead of the executions of Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

Ms Bishop said she and Ms Marsudi were in constant contact via text messages, “much to the chagrin of diplomats”.

Ms Bishop will visit Indonesia in October.

Meanwhile, opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek will be in Jakarta on Thursday and Friday for meetings with Indonesian ministers and other dignitaries.

Source: The Australian

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