Subject: RT: U.S. Moves to Reinstate Indonesia Military Aid

Also: AFP - Rice signals move to restore US-Indonesian military training ties

U.S. Moves to Reinstate Indonesia Military Aid Thu Feb 17, 2005 01:28 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday she is moving to reinstate U.S. military training assistance for Indonesia, an important step toward restoring full military ties.

Formal military relations were cut with the world's biggest Muslim nation more than a decade ago because of alleged human rights violations by Indonesian forces, although there has been some low-level training cooperation.

The Bush administration tried to revive close ties with Indonesia's military during its first term which ended in January but the effort faltered after two American school teachers were murdered in the province of Papua in 2002.

Investigations by police and non-governmental organizations pointed to Indonesian military involvement in the murders.

The U.S. Congress made any resumption of U.S. military training -- called the International Military Education and Training or IMET program -- for Indonesian officers dependent on certification by the secretary of state that Jakarta was helping the FBI investigate the killings.

"I am in the latter stages of consultations with members of Congress about a decision to certify that Indonesia has met the cooperation requirement set forth in the law ... so that it is possible to restore full IMET privileges to Indonesia," Rice told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.

"I think it's a good time to do that. They just had presidential election, a successful democratic exercise in a huge country with a huge Muslim population," she said.

U.S. military aid was cut after Indonesian troops killed 57 demonstrators in East Timor in 1991, when the territory was part of Indonesia.

Some counterterrorism training for Indonesian forces was resumed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as Washington sought to enlist Jakarta as an ally in the war on terrorism. But key members of Congress have been concerned that the Indonesian military has not sufficiently improved its rights record.

Rice said Indonesian authorities had been "cooperating well enough (with the FBI) that we've been able to get an indictment in this (school teachers') case."

Rice gave no figure but IMET funds tend to be modest, belying what supporters say is their significant impact in forging close relations between a highly trained, professional, civilian-led U.S. military and the armies of countries Washington is trying to influence.

Although often overshadowed by other Asian giants like China and Japan, Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation and a key to regional stability which for 50 years had close military ties with the United States.

The tsunami that devastated parts of Indonesia and other Asian nations in December as well as Jakarta's progress in moving from an authoritarian state to a more democratic system has given the administration a new opening to push again for closer U.S.-Indonesia military ties.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz visited Indonesia last month to review tsunami damage and announce a desire for closer military ties. Washington made a temporary exception to military aid restrictions to provide spare parts for planes delivering relief to tsunami victims.

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AFP Rice signals move to restore US-Indonesian military training ties

2 hours, 19 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) signaled that the United States was ready to restore full military training ties with Indonesia that were downgraded 13 years ago.

Rice told a Senate panel she was in the "final stages" of consultations with Congress on certifying Indonesia as eligible to benefit from the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.

"I think it's a good time to do that," she said, citing what she called Indonesia's "successful" presidential election last year and cooperation in the investigation of the 2002 murder of two Americans in Indonesia.

The administration of President George W. Bush (news - web sites) has been eager to restore military links with Indonesia, largely to help combat terrorism, but has run so far into a reluctant Congress.

But Rice, testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the proposed 2006 budget, expressed confidence the move would go through. "I do believe the time may have come to do that," she said.

The top US diplomat said the move, which requires congressional approval, would "restore full IMET privileges to Indonesia" that were suspended in 1992 amid concerns over Indonesia's human rights record.

The United States stepped up sanctions in 1999 after the Indonesian army killed some 1,500 people during East Timor (news - web sites)'s drive for independence.

Ties soured further in 2002 when the Indonesian army was accused of blocking US investigations into the killing of two US schoolteachers in the country's Papua province.

Relations took an upturn, however, after the United States mounted a massive military relief operation to help Indonesian victims of the December 26 tsunami that wreaked havoc, mostly in Aceh province.

Washington partially lifted an embargo on the supply of military hardware to Indonesia, delivering spare parts for five Hercules transport planes so they could be used to aid tsunami victims.


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