Subject: Indonesia Looks to China for Arms Supplies [+ASEAN Security]

Also: China, Indonesia look for ways to boost military ties

The Jakarta Post Friday, November 5, 2004

RI hopes for better relations with U.S.

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja and M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

The government congratulated President George W. Bush on Thursday over his reelection and expressed a hope for stronger ties with the world's only superpower country.

"The government of Indonesia congratulates President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney on their re-election and wish them success in their second term in dealing with the various challenges facing both the United States and the world," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself was expected to call Bush on Friday to congratulate him.

Analysts, however, doubted on Thursday whether Bush's reelection would bring about any change in bilateral ties between Indonesia and the United States.

Bantarto Bandoro of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said that the support for Bush in Tuesday's election indicated that the incumbent won the approval of U.S. citizens to continue his war on terrorism.

"The Bush administration will continue to pursue the war on terrorism and Indonesia will therefore be affected by this," Bantarto told The Jakarta Post.

He said terrorism would remain a global threat and cooperation between countries would be indispensable to ward off the menace.

"Cooperation in the fight against terrorism will bring Indonesia, the U.S. and Australia closer together," he said, adding that the war on terror would receive wider support if the Bush administration took a more benign approach in its implementation.

Dewi Fortuna Anwar of the Indonesian Institute for Sciences (LIPI) said that the government could not expect a speedy resumption of the military relationship between the two countries.

The U.S. imposed a military embargo on the Indonesian Military (TNI), following allegations that gross human rights abuses had taken place after East Timor separated from Indonesia in 1999.

"The problem does not lie with the Bush administration, but with the U.S. Congress, which wants to maintain the embargo. In fact, President Bush wanted to resume the military ties early in his first administration," she told the Post.

When asked about the resistance from groups that resent the Bush antiterror drive, which they perceive as targeting Muslims around the world, Dewi said: "It depends on whether the Indonesian government manages to dispel the suspicion that it merely bows down to U.S. interests."

She also said that such resistance would not materialize if the Bush administration pursued its antiterror drive prudently.

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China, Indonesia look for ways to boost military ties

JAKARTA, Nov. 5 (AFP) - Indonesia and China on Friday discussed defense cooperation, exploring ways for Jakarta to obtain new arms supplies as the Southeast Asian country struggles to rebuild military ties with Washington.

Visiting Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan said he had met with new Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, discussing broad bilateral issues including defense cooperation.

"We held talks on defense cooperation and we have agreed to increase cooperation and consultation on security," he told reporters.

The United States halted most military-to-military contacts with Indonesia after Jakarta's troops ran riot in East Timor during a 1999 independence vote. US legislators say abuses must be accounted for before ties can resume.

U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed disappointment at the outcome of Indonesian tribunals to try military, police and civilian officials accused of atrocities linked to East Timor's violent separation from Indonesia.

Separately, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said Jakarta hoped from the talks China could "provide ways to help (us) rejuvenate our weaponry."

Tang, who is due to hold separate talks later with Vice President Yusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adisucipto and Hassan, said he was "satisfied" with his meeting with Susilo.

President Hu Jintao's also extended an invitation for Susilo to visit China, Tang said, adding that the two leaders could possibly hold separate bilateral talks at the Nov. 22 to Dec. 1 ASEAN summit in Laos.

Indonesia's relations with Beijing were put on ice after Jakarta accused the Chinese Communist Party of backing an abortive coup blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party in 1965.

In a sign of dramatically improved relations, former president Soeharto, who rose to power after the coup attempt and outlawed communism in Indonesia, visited Beijing in 1991. Soeharto stood down in 1998.


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