Subject: Kopassus, Aussies to Resume Training

Also: Kopassus explores possibilities of resuming training with US Special Forces

Australian Forces, Indonesian Commandos To Resume Training

SYDNEY, Dec. 10 (AP)--Australian forces will resume training exercises with Indonesia's Kopassus elite commando force next year, Defense Minister Robert Hill said in an interview published Sunday.

The maneuvers will be the first since Canberra suspended joint training with Kopassus following widespread allegations the force was involved in human rights abuses in East Timor ahead of the former Indonesian province's 1999 independence vote.

Hill told Melbourne paper The Sunday Age he made the decision because it "might one day save Australian lives in Indonesia."

Members of Indonesia's parliament inspect Kopassus weapons.  
Members of the House of Representatives Commission I on defense examine weapons belonging to the Army Special Forces (Kopassus) at the unit's headquarters near the Central Java town of Surakarta. Jakarta Post  

Australia's Defense Department said it would issue a statement later Sunday on the exercises between Canberra's elite Special Air Service forces and Kopassus.

The decision is the latest step in the international rehabilitation of Indonesia's armed forces. The U.S. last month lifted a ban on arms sales to Jakarta that was imposed after the East Timor conflict.

Hill said 30 Kopassus soldiers would take part early next year in a two-week exercise that will include training in counterterrorism, dealing with hijackings and hostage recovery.

Dozens of Australians have been killed by terrorists in Indonesia in recent years, including 88 who died in the October 2002 Bali bombings. Al-Qaida-linked Islamic terrorists also have targeted the Australian embassy in Jakarta with a truck bomb.

Hill told The Sunday Age Australia was confident no soldiers involved in human rights abuses in East Timor would be part of the exercise.

"They know to nominate somebody who has human rights blemishes on their record would be embarrassing to us and we are confident that such a person wouldn't be in the group," he said.

Hill said the exercise would be a further step in restoring relations between Australian and Indonesian militaries.

"We've been wanting to do so because we see Kopassus as important in providing effective counterterrorism capabilities that might one day save Australian lives in Indonesia," he said.

"We do believe that Indonesia has made a serious effort to improve the human rights record of its forces," he added. "The current government is very committed to that and if we look at how they've responded to the cease-fire in Aceh, its been really quite impressive."

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Kopassus explores possibilities of resuming training with US Special Forces

Jakarta, December 10 (ANTARA) - Maj Gen Syaiful Rizal, chief of the army's special force Kopassus said the elite force will again explore possibilities of cooperation with its US counterparts following the decision of the US government to lift its military embargo on Indonesia in mid-November 2005.

"We have forged a cooperation and training with other special forces like those of Singapore and Thailand. But the trainings with the US and Australian forces had been suspended following the US embargo in 1999," Rizal said on the sidelines of the closing of Kopassus top training dubbed Tribuana Cakti-XI in Wonosari district, Yogyakarta, on Friday.

The US administration decided to restore military relations with Indonesia on Nov 22, 2005. Under the decision, the military embargo on International Military Education and Training (IMET), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) were revoked.

Syaiful said the training and cooperation with Australia's Special Army Services (SAS) had been resumed after a meeting between the Kopassus with the Australian side in 2004. "The meeting agreed that SAS and Kopassus will hold a joint training in February 2006," he added.

He also said the Kopassus will explore possibilities to resume cooperation and training with US special forces.

"Though cooperation and training with the two countries' special forces had been suspended, the Indonesian army's red berets had always conducted training and upgraded their capabilities," the two-star army general added.


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