Julie Bishop says sorry for breaching Indonesian waters

FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop has sent an "unreserved written apology" to Indonesia for the breaches of Indonesian waters under Operation Sovereign Borders.

Ms Bishop said her personal apology for the inadvertent breaches of Indonesian waters joined official government communication with Foreign Minister Dr Marty Natalegawa.

The apology came after Immigration Minister Scott Morrison revealed last week multiple breaches on more than one day of Indonesia's waters.

He said at least one vessel had crossed the line, in breach of Australia's own policy, but that the problem would not happen again, despite the potential for such problems in operating close to the border.

While Ms Bishop would not go into detail on how the incidents affected the relationship, she said there remained a common interest for both nations to dismantle people smuggling.

Dr Natalegawa on Monday responded to the incidents for the first time, telling Fairfax the government should have followed Indonesia's advice not to try to turn back boats.

"An apology would not have been necessary if they had followed our initial suggestion," he said.

Dr Natalegawa said the nation "deplored this very serious breach of Indonesia's territory", indicating the country reserved its right to pursue the matter further.

ANU research fellow Dr Andrew Carr last week told APN while the breaches would be seen as a mistake; they had the potential to further strain Australia's "most important relationship".

The Australian Government has also ordered an investigation into the breaches, led by the heads of the Defence Force and Customs Service.


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