Australians and Indonesians view each other with ignorance, suspicion

Most Australians and Indonesians cannot name the leader of the other country, but both agree the two countries should work to forge closer ties, according to a survey published Monday.

The poll, published by the independent think-tank Lowy Institute for International Policy, asked more than 2,200 Australians and Indonesians to rate their knowledge and opinion of the other country.

Sixty-three percent of Australians could not name Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, while 73 percent of Indonesians could not remember the name of Australia's Prime Minister John Howard.

Although 77 percent of Australians and 64 percent of Indonesians agreed with the statement that both countries should "work to develop a close relationship," the survey also uncovered differences in perceptions about the bilateral relationship.

Respondents were asked to rate a series of statements on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means "strongly disagree" and 10 means "strongly agree."

Asked whether Indonesia was a "dangerous source of Islamic terrorism," most Australians agreed, with an average response of 6.5. Most Indonesians disagreed, with an average response of 3.8.

On the question of whether Australia "is right to worry about Indonesia as a military threat," most Australian respondents agreed, with an average response of 6.2. Indonesians were less certain, however, with an average response of 5.

"While there is a degree of recognition that we need to work together, there is a degree of mistrust, suspicion on both sides," said Ivan Cook, the author of the study.

The institute's executive director, Allan Gyngell, said the survey indicated "high levels of ignorance and suspicion" between the two countries, reports AP.

The poll of 1,007 Australians and 1,200 Indonesians was conducted between June 22 and July 6, by random telephone sample in Australia and face-to-face interviews in Indonesia.

It had a margin of error of 3.1 percent in Australia and 2.8 percent in Indonesia.

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