( dpa )- Former Indonesian president Suharto was a friend to Australia despite his "less than desirable" human-rights record, former foreign minister Alexander Downer said Sunday.
Suharto died in Jakarta on Sunday aged 86.
"He had a very good vision for building a strong South-East Asian community and a positive view about Australia being part of that," Downer told Australia's AAP news agency.
Suharto , who ruled Indonesia for 32 years before being ousted in 1998 only visited Australia once - and then only for a few hours.
Australia's official relations with Suharto blossomed under former prime minister Paul Keating, who visited Indonesia six times in four years.
In 1995 Keating and Suharto sealed a defence pact that was abrogated by Indonesia in 1999 when Canberra led an international force to give East Timor its independence.
Indonesia specialist Greg Fealy , from the Australian National University in Canberra, said Keating was not alone in fawning on the former general.
"For the most part, successive Australian governments were very pleased that Suharto was president of Indonesia," Fealy said.
"He had, for the most part, a pro-Western stance and ... put a great deal of emphasis on Indonesia's internal stability and that saved Australia a lot of headaches."