Subject: CNews: Indonesia pushes for lifting of US arms embargo

Channel NewsAsia March 13, 2001 Tuesday Indonesia pushes for lifting of US arms embargo

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab has held talks in Washington with US Secretary of State Colin Powell to press for the lifting of an arms embargo imposed after the violence in East Timor.

Dr Alwi told reporters that Indonesia has done all it can to resolve the Timor issue, and thus has met all the requirements for the embargo to be scrapped.

He said Mr Powell seemed convinced that the embargo should be lifted.

But he admits that the lifting of the embargo may not be within the power of Mr Powell as a Secretary of State.

"It is not fully in his capacity to lift the embargo, because it has to do with the Congress as well, but he promised to talk to the people in the Capitol Hill and to relay our argument and support our argument," he said

The meeting at the US State Department has been billed as a chance for the two men to get acquainted, after Mr Powell took up his appointment in January.

But some US officials admitted privately there is concern that Indonesia might be torn apart by its deepening political crisis in Jakarta and ethnic conflicts in the provinces.

Still, Dr Alwi denies that Indonesia is falling apart, saying demonstrations on the streets of Jakarta are just part and parcel of democracy.

Dr Alwi said: "I don't think it is very chaotic, this is part of democracy, demonstrations everywhere, you find demonstrations everywhere. "I think what I heard from the Secretary of State that he wants to see constitutional ways of resolving our problem in Indonesia means that, at least that's my reading. "He doesn't like to see a president to be replaced before the expiration of his term. Constitutionally, he has been elected democratically. "So he has to continue and there is no reason to step down just because of a demonstration from certain segment of Indonesian society."


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