Subject: Indon Risks Losing Int'l Support Over W Timor: US Amb.Gelbard

Indonesia risks losing international support over West Timor: US

JAKARTA, Sept 25 (AFP) - Indonesia risks losing international support if it fails to bring the killers of three UN aid workers to justice and disband the militias in West Timor, US ambassador Robert Gelbard said Monday.

"Indonesia riskes losing moral support... if this issue is not addressed," Gelbard told an economic conference here co-hosted by his embassy, reiterating a warning from Washington.

An immediate challenge to Jakarta was reviewing the causes of the violence and instability which have afflicted West Timor for the past year, Gelbard said.

The United Nations had asked that the militias, held responsible for the September 6 murder of the aid workers, be disbanded and resettled, and Indonesia could count on help to carry out the task, if it asked.

"We and others in the international community stand ready to help," in the disarmament and resettlement project, he added.

Gelbard was echoing comments by US Defence Secretary Willian Cohen in Jakarta earlier this month that failure to restore security in West Timor "will have consequences for Jakarta's relations with the international community and could jeopardize continued economic assistance to Indonesia."

The three UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) workers were hacked to death on September 6 by militias in the West Timor border town on Atambua, reportedly as the military and police stood by.

Six people were subsequently detained and questioned as suspects in the murders, but President Abdurrahman Wahid said on Saturday he had learned that police had already released the six.

Wahid warned that the premature releases could endanger Indonesia's relations with the international community.

At the same conference, US embassy public affairs counselor, Greta Morris, speaking in answer to an Indonesian speaker, rebutted charges that the United States had sent US marines to guard the border of East Timor.

The marines had arrived in East Timor aboard four warships last week to carry out humanitarian work, such as repairing schools and other infrastructure, Morris said.

"The marines are not going to intervene in West Timor, and they have already left," Morris said.

East Timor's infrastructure was devastated by the wave of militia violence that followed East Timor's vote last year for independence from Indonesia.

The militia followed the refugees that were driven out during the violence into West Timor, and have remained there since.

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