|Subject: US Hopes Its Planes Won't be Used
To Kill Acehnese
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
Laksamana.Net Fri., January 7, 2005
US Hopes Planes Won't be Used Against Rebels
Visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell has expressed hope that his government's decision to partially lift its embargo on supplies of military hardware to Indonesia will not lead to renewed attacks on separatist rebels in devastated Aceh province.
At a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta on Wednesday night (5/1/05). Powell said Washington would resume supplies of spare parts for Hercules C-130 military transport planes so they can deliver desperately needed aid to Aceh's tsunami survivors.
Washington had cut military ties with Jakarta after Indonesian security forces and their militia proxies unleashed carnage in East Timor in the period surrounding the territory's 1999 vote for independence. Indonesia has not punished any of its troops for the atrocities in which about 1,400 people were killed.
Presidential spokesman Dino Pati Djalal said Yudhoyono welcomed the move to ease the embargo. "We hope the supply will be permanent," he was quoted as saying by state news agency Antara.
Powell on Thursday said he hoped Indonesia would only use the aircraft spare parts for humanitarian work, rather than attacking the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
"They're desperately needed to provide humanitarian relief. The government of Indonesia, I think, is anxious to have a better relationship with the United States with respect to the provision of parts, and so I hope, if we can get this taken care of, the government of Indonesia will use the planes for the intended purpose of bringing them back into operating condition and, in order to keep that relationship flourishing would not use them in a way not intended, i.e. going after GAM," he told reporters in Indonesia.
Powell, who on Wednesday toured the devastation in Aceh, said that only seven of the Indonesian military's approximately 24 C-130H planes were presently in working order.
"Only seven of them can really fly. And so, it seemed to me that the humanitarian need that you saw yesterday trumps, right now, the reservations we have. And we're doing it in a way that still puts controls on the remaining aircraft. Only a few additional aircraft will be made serviceable as a result of the arrangements I'm working on now, maybe five more," he said.
It remains to be seen whether the US Congress will approve the decision to partially lift the embargo. Congress has previously maintained that justice must first be served in the August 2002 killing of two Americans near the huge Freeport gold mine in Papua province.
Jakarta Post website Jan. 7, 2005
U.S. gives Indonesia credit facility for Hercules spare parts
Tiarma Siboro, Jakarta
The United States has granted Indonesia a credit facility to procure spare parts for its Hercules aircraft to be used for relief efforts in tsunami-hit Aceh province, a defense official said on Thursday.
Ministry of Defense's director general of defense strategy Maj. Gen. (ret.) Sudrajat said Washington would open a so-called Foreign Military Sale Account for Jakarta to be able to buy Hercules hardware directly from the U.S. in installments.
Earlier on Wednesday, Indonesian presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal quoted visiting U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as saying that restrictions on equipment to mend a fleet of grounded military cargo planes would be eased.
Sudrajat clarified that the U.S. embargo imposed on non-lethal equipment had actually been lifted in 2002, so Indonesia's military cargo planes could
airlift aid for victims in conflict areas, such as Ambon in Maluku, and Poso regency in Central Sulawesi.
Despite the lifting of the ban, Jakarta had not been allowed to purchase
spare parts for Hercules directly from Washington, but had to procure them from third countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Europe, which used similar hardware to the U.S., Sudrajat said.
All transactions, however, had to be with the consent of U.S. authorities, he added.
"This forced us to shop for double prices, while there was no guarantee that other countries wanted to merchandise their U.S. spare parts," he told The Jakarta Post.
Sudrajat urged Washington to ease its standing embargo on lethal equipment for Jakarta to help the Indonesian military (TNI) restore security and stop disturbances across the country.
Indonesia has two squadrons of Hercules planes, with only 40 of them airworthy. This is often used by the TNI as a reason for being late in sending troops and humanitarian aid to remote areas hit by security disturbances or natural disasters.
According to Sudrajat, the military needs at least US$1 million to $2 million to repair each of its grounded cargo planes.
Military analyst Andi Widjajanto from the University of Indonesia asked the government not to be reactive in responding the U.S. move to further ease the military embargo that was imposed on Indonesia in the wake of alleged gross human rights abuses in East Timor in 1999.
It could just be a "political gesture" rather than a willingness to revive permanent military to military relations, he said.
"The U.S. administration is unable to address the issue because any bilateral cooperation in arms and technology transfer must be endorsed by the U.S.
Congress," Andi said.
Andi was pessimistic that the decision to lift the embargo could happen immediately.
"We should not change our policy of looking for new suppliers of military equipment," he said.
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