Secretary of State John Kerry refuses to say whether US asked Australia to tap the personal phone of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is taking the same line as Prime Minister Tony Abbott, refusing to comment on reports Australia’s electronic spy agency sought to tap the personal phone of the Indonesian president.
Australia monitors civil and military communications in Asia as part of its role in the “Five Eyes” signals intelligence alliance that also includes the United States, Canada, the UK and New Zealand.
Mr Kerry, speaking at the end of AUSMIN talks in Washington, refused to buy into the diplomatic row between Australia and Indonesia over spying claims.
“We just don’t talk about intelligence matters in public and we’re not going to begin now,” he told reporters when asked whether the US had asked Australia to tap the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle.
Mr Kerry said the US enjoyed an “unbreakable and a critical” working relationship with Australia.
The US would continue to work with Australia on global counter-terrorism activities.
“Likewise we have great respect and affection for Indonesia,” he said, adding the US would also carry on its work with Jakarta.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop reiterated the Australian government’s position when asked whether Canberra had registered its displeasure with the US over the leaking of National Security Agency documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“We do not discuss intelligence matters, certainly not allegations,” she said.
The Snowden documents revealed the Defence Signals Directorate tapped the mobile phone of President Yudhoyono, his wife and those of cabinet colleagues and close advisers in August 2009.