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Subject: USGOV: Military Training Yes, Base No
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 09:05:14 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <etan@etan.org>

*EPF208 07/14/98 TRANSCRIPT: JCS VICE CHAIRMAN RALSTON MEDIA AVAILABILITY (Discussed resumption of military-to-military contacts) (670)

Jakarta -- The United States has no plans to lease a military base in Indonesia, according to General Joseph W. Ralston, the vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In remarks at a press availability in Jakarta July 14 following his meetings with Indonesian President Habibie, Ralston said: "The president discussed several issues with regard to our two nations. One of the things we did discuss was the resumption of military-to-military contacts between the American armed forces and the Indonesian armed forces."

"We have a variety of proposals that we will be working on with ABRI (Armed Forces of the Republic of Indonesia), but they would involve humanitarian, engineering, and medical type of exercises," he said.

"Obviously," Ralston said, "we are always concerned with the issue of human rights. I have discussed that with the senior leadership. I believe that there is a good understanding of that subject and I think that actions are underway."

Following is a transcript of the media availability:

(begin transcript)

GENERAL JOSEPH W. RALSTON VICE CHAIRMAN JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF MEDIA AVAILABILITY BINA GRAHA

JULY 14, 1998

JAKARTA, INDONESIA

Moderator: Your questions, please.

Q: Can you tell us the main topic of your conversation with the president?

RALSTON: First of all, let me say that I am very, very pleased to have the opportunity to visit Indonesia and to have discussions with your president and with your senior military leadership. The president discussed several issues with regard to our two nations. I don't want to go into the specifics of what we discussed, but we had very good discussions. One of the things we did discuss, that the president asked me to work on, was the resumption of military-to-military contacts between the American armed forces and the Indonesian armed forces. And so we are prepared to do that, and we will be resuming our military-to-military contacts.

Q: What kinds of military contacts will be resumed?

RALSTON: We have a variety of proposals that we will be working on with ABRI, but they would involve humanitarian, engineering, and medical type of exercises.

Q: Why was the cooperation suspended and what form will exercises take?

RALSTON: What we have done for the past couple of months, as you know, is, because of the situation in Indonesia, we thought it best that Indonesia concentrate on, while the armed forces were concentrating on, internal issues, that we took a break and so what we will be doing is looking for exercises that the two armed forces can participate in together.

Q: (Inaudible.) Did you raise the possibility that the United States will lease a military base in Indonesia?

RALSTON: Well, I can tell you that we certainly have no plans to lease military bases or anything of that nature here. We are not looking for a base in Indonesia. Your first question? I'm sorry I didn't quite catch your first question.

Q: How has the economic crisis affected the stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and did you discuss this with the president?

RALSTON: Well, obviously the economic situation, political situation, military situation, all become affected any time you have an unstable situation. That's why we are very pleased with the role that ABRI has played during the past crisis. I think they have acted very responsibly: they have established the conditions by which you can have political stability. You establish political stability and you have set the foundations to have economic stability. So, I believe that all of that is laid out very well.

Q: Any comments about human rights in Indonesia?

A: Obviously, we are always concerned with the issue of human rights. I have discussed that with the senior leadership. I believe that there is a good understanding of that subject and I think that actions are underway.

Thank you.

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