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Former Australian prime minister warns of Indonesia reaction

AP  |  Canberra 

A former Australian has warned the government to expect a negative reaction from if follows the by shifting its embassy in from to

Former spoke to reporters after meeting Indonesian on the tourist island of on Monday to discuss a bilateral free trade deal.

"The expressed to me ... the very serious concern held in about the prospect of the Australian Embassy in being moved from to Jerusalem," Turnbull told in an interview aired on Tuesday.

"There's no question that were that move to occur, it would be met with a very negative reaction in "

"This is after all the largest ... majority-Muslim country in the world, so we have to be very clear-eyed about that and we have to take into account Australia's national interest and our interests in the region when we ... consider decisions like this," he added.

said on Tuesday no decision had been made yet on the embassy's location.

Morrison sent his predecessor to represent at a climate change conference in because of Turnbull's close personal repport with the Indonesian leader, who had been disappointed that colleagues replaced him in August in response to poor opinion polling.

Turnbull said he was confident that the free trade deal between Australia, a nation of 25 million people, and Indonesia, a near-neighbour with a population of more than 260 million people, would be signed within weeks.

Turnbull also said should stick with a policy of more than 40 years that its embassy should be in

Morrison, a long-time ally of Turnbull who had argued against replacing him in a leadership ballot of government lawmakers, floated the idea of shifting the embassy days before a by-election in a electorate with a large Jewish population.

The government lost the by-election, forced by Turnbull's resignation from Parliament, and its single-seat majority in the

"Australia will always make our decisions on our foreign policy based on our interests and we'll do that as a sovereign nation," Morrison told reporters.

We'll consult, we'll listen to others, but at the end of the day ... I will always put our interests first," he added.

The turned its back on decades of US policy last December by recognizing as Israel's capital and in May, it moved the from Tel Aviv.

The decision angered the Muslim world and was a setback for Palestinian aspirations for statehood. Palestinians see east Jerusalem, captured by in the 1967 Mideast war, as the capital of a future independent state.

Morrison said Australia remained committed to finding a two-state solution. When Morrison became prime minister, he made his first overseas trip to Indonesia, an ardent supporter of the Palestinian cause, in a sign of the importance Australia places on the bilateral relationship.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, October 30 2018. 06:35 IST