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Jakarta recalls another Australian ambassador

Australian PM Howard visited Jakarta earlier this year in a bid to ease tensions  

By Grant Holloway
CNN Sydney

CANBERRA, Australia (CNN) -- Indonesia will send its fourth ambassador to Australia in four years, after recalling Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat to Jakarta after just 14 months in the job.

Parnohadiningrat, who returned to Jakarta on Saturday, has been promoted to the position of Secretary General for Foreign Affairs, the Indonesian Embassy told CNN Tuesday.

He will be sworn into that position on May 3.

The appointment of a replacement for Parnohadiningrat in Canberra could take several months as potential candidates now have to be approved by the Indonesian parliament under new rules introduced following the ascension of President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Previously the ambassadors were appointed solely at the discretion of the Indonesian president. Asia
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Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reported rumors Monday that Golkar Vice-Chairman Theo Sambuaga is a front-runner for the post.

Sabuaga said he had heard the rumors also, but that he had not been informed that he was a candidate for the position.

Councillor for information at the embassy, Lufti Rauf, told CNN the embassy would be run by the Deputy Chief of Mission, Imran Cotan, until a new ambassador was named.

Relations between Australia and Indonesia have improved lately, following a falling out over the issues of asylum seekers and East Timor.

Last November Parnohadingrat accused Australia of practising "noisy diplomacy" following a spat over asylum seekers picked up in Indonesian waters by a Norwegian freighter and taken to an Australian landfall.

Megawati refused to return phone calls from Australian Prime Minister John Howard after he spoke to media about Indonesia's responsibilities in the case before talking privately to Jakarta about the matter.

Australia's role in leading an international peacekeeping force to the former Indonesian province of East Timor has also angered many Jakarta power-brokers, as have comments by Howard on the republic's response to the September 11 terror attacks.

A visit by Howard to Jakarta since then has gone some way to reducing tensions between the neighbors, but much groundwork still needs to be done to bring relations back to where they were in the early 1990s.




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