Subject: US Cohen, Indonesia's Wahid Discuss Attacks On UN Workers

Associated Press September 18, 2000

US Cohen, Indonesia's Wahid Discuss Attacks On UN Workers

JAKARTA (AP)--U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen met Monday with President Abdurrahman Wahid and other leading officials in an effort to get them to disband militia groups that have killed U.N. peacekeepers and aid workers on Timor island.

After arriving in Jakarta Sunday night, Cohen warned the government to take action against the army-controlled gangs or risk international isolation.

"The government will have to decide in terms of what the consequences will be, cooperation or isolation," said Cohen, who is on a six-nation Asian tour.

President Bill Clinton has publicly urged Wahid to disarm East Timorese militiamen responsible for the Sept. 6 deaths of an American and two other U.N. aid workers.

They also have killed two U.N. peacekeepers in border skirmishes.

Wahid, who on Monday fired national police chief Gen. Rusdihardjo, maintains the Timor attacks were orchestrated by hardline commanders loyal to former dictator Suharto in order to discredit and humiliate his reformist government.

But his defense minister, Mahfud M.D. has publicly accused Australia of being behind the attack on the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Atambua, a border town in Indonesian-held West Timor.

Mahfud's statement that the killings were designed to prevent East Timor's reintegration into Indonesia has stunned Western analysts and U.N. officials.

"We are deeply concerned that the government does not seem to understand what happened," a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Sunday.

Indonesian forces ended a bloody, 24-year occupation of East Timor last year by laying waste to the province in the aftermath of a U.N.-sponsored referendum that ended with an overwhelming vote for independence.

The territory is now under U.N. administration, during its transition to full independence.

But army-controlled paramilitary gangs fled to Indonesian-held West Timor, where they have used border refugee camps as bases for incursions into East Timor.

Although Wahid has promised the U.N. that he would quickly bring those responsible to justice for the murder of the three U.N. workers, no arrests have yet been made and none of the police officers, responsible for their security, have been disciplined.

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