Subject: JP: Lawmakers Urge Follow-Up on SBY Overseas Deals

also: AFP - Normalisation of US-Indonesia Military Ties to Help Democracy; AP- Sutarto; Indonesia's military chief urges U.S. to resume full military ties for regional stability

The Jakarta Post
Monday, June 6, 2005

Lawmakers Urge Follow-Up on SBY Deals

Tony Hotland, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

While citing the generally positive outcome of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's recent overseas visit, House of Representatives members warned on Saturday that the government had to ensure concrete follow-up to any agreements sealed during the 12-day trip.

They expressed disappointment that the mission to get the United States to lift its arms embargo on Indonesia had been fruitless, and criticized the inclusion of family members of Susilo on the visit as unnecessary.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) legislator Amris Hasan said the results of the visit were all quite beneficial, including a couple of economic memorandums of understanding sealed with Japan.

"It has to be noted, though, that state visits in the past by former presidents often only led to talks without any follow-up. It is very important that the deals with Japan be followed up on," said Amris, who sits on the House's Commission I on foreign affairs.

Expressing a similar view, the chairman of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) faction, Untung Wahono, said it would be the way in which such memorandums were implemented that would ultimately demonstrate the success or failure of the state visits.

"MOUs may look good on paper, but it is the follow-up in the real world that shows whether or not the nation, especially the public, will gain any advantages from them," he said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono arrived back home on Friday night from Tokyo after a 12-day state visit to the United States, Vietnam and Japan. He brought along a number of Cabinet ministers, legislators, and his wife and two sons.

In the middle of his overseas trip, two bombs exploded on May 28 in the mainly Christian town of Tentena, some 60 kilometers north of Poso -- an area once wracked by sectarian fighting in Central Sulawesi. The bombs killed 21 people and injured 70 others.

The latest terror attack was considered by many, including legislators, as a serious blow that made it tougher for the President to convince foreign investors to put their money into the cash-strapped country.

The lawmakers also questioned the inclusion of Susilo's two sons on the long visit and criticized the President for failing to save taxpayers' money by shortening the trip.

Amris said the visit could have been shortened as many of the items on the agenda, especially in the U.S. and Vietnam, were neither important nor urgent.

"Susilo flew to Seattle to meet (Microsoft boss) Bill Gates, and this took up more time. He could have had Gates fly to Washington. The Vietnam visit was also just a friendly one to bolster diplomatic ties ... it shouldn't have taken so many days," he argued.

Amris' view was shared by National Mandate Party (PAN) faction chairman Abdillah Toha, who said the Japanese visit was perhaps the only one to have produced significant results.

"The target of restoring full military cooperation with the U.S wasn't achieved. The U.S. executive was supportive, but we still haven't been able to convince their Congress. The Vietnam visit was quite vital as Indonesia can capitalize on their steady growth," said Abdillah.

The legislators also noted that it was quite inappropriate for Susilo's wife and two sons to have tagged along.

"We on Commission I have always criticized this sort of thing -- ever since the days of Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Soekarnoputri. It shows that the practice hasn't changed at all," said Amris.


AFP, June 4, 2005

Normalisation of US-Indonesia Military Ties to Help Democracy: Sutarto

Indonesia's armed forces chief said the normalisation of military ties between Jakarta and Washington would help strengthen democracy in his country and ensure regional stability.

General Endriartono Sutarto said Saturday the full restoration of military links was a matter for the political leaders of both nations to decide, but said he would like to see this happen.

"Normalisation of relations is one of the most important things and it will help a lot to give us knowledge concerning democracy, concerning the respect for human rights, and also how to conduct humanitarian activities," he told an international security forum in Singapore.

"It's up to the politicians to decide that, but it will help a lot in the stability of the region and also it will help a lot the process of democracy in Indonesia."

Sutarto, the commander-in-chief of the Indonesian National Defence Forces, noted that he had received military training in the United States in 1977 and acknowledged this bolstered his career.

The United States froze military ties with Indonesia, the world's biggest Islamic country, more than a decade ago because of alleged human rights abuses by the armed forces.

But Washington announced on May 26 it had lifted a ban on the US government selling nonlethal defence equipment to Indonesia as part of a process to restore full military links.

"That means we can do foreign military sales in excess defence articles," US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Washington's announcement coincided with a visit by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to the United States in which he met with US President George W. Bush.

Direct US commercial sales of nonlethal defence articles and services were allowed in January and involved providing spare parts to Indonesian C-130 military transport planes used in relief operations after the December 26 tsunami that ravaged Indonesia's Aceh province.

Boucher described last month's decision to allow government-to-government sales as the "third step" in a process aimed at easing the military embargo after the reformist Yudhoyono came into power through the country's first direct presidential elections last year.

Indonesia is seeking military hardware and training assistance from the United States to revitalise its overstretched and poorly equipped armed forces guarding a vast archipelago.

In his speech to the delegates attending the Institute for International Strategic Studies' Asia Security Conference, Sutarto also thanked all the armed forces worldwide which came to Indonesia's rescue in the aftermath of the tsunami.

The United States sent a large-scale military and humanitarian contingent to Indonesia for the relief operations, including the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and the floating hospital ship USNS Mercy.

The Australian, French, German, Japanese and Singaporean militaries also sent help.

"This is an example of how the militaries can work together, not to kill each other but to save lives," Sutarto told the audience, comprised of defence ministers, senior military officals, diplomats and scholars.

"It's really very helpful, very useful, all the soldiers that you sent to Aceh... Good job."

The chairman of the US Joints Chief of Staff, General Richard Myers, was in the audience for Sutarto's address.


Associated Press
June 4, 2005

Indonesia's military chief urges U.S. to resume full military ties for regional stability

Indonesia's armed forces chief on Saturday urged the United States to return to a full normalization of military ties, saying it would help regional stability as well as Indonesia's democracy.

The U.S. severed most military ties with Indonesia in 1999, when militias backed by the Indonesian military destroyed much of East Timor and killed about 1,500 people after residents voted for independence from Jakarta in a U.N.-sponsored referendum.

Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said his country's military ties with Western nations were "not so good because of human rights." But said his armed forces _ with the largest troop numbers in Southeast Asia _ are trying to reform.

"I understand that," he said, referring to Western militaries that have severed ties with Indonesia. "No one in the world should violate human rights."

"The people want a normalization of relations (with the United States)," Sutarto said at a conference of security ministers and defense chiefs in Singapore. "It would help stability in the region and the process of democracy in Indonesia."

Washington decided last week to partially resume military sales to Jakarta, following a meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Indonesian leader Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The policy change drew criticism from human rights groups, who say Indonesia hasn't done enough to curb the military's alleged human rights abuses in Aceh province and other areas torn by separatist violence.

Earlier this year, the U.S. decided to renew training of Indonesian military officers and to allow direct commercial sales of some defense items and services. The step allowed Jakarta to buy spare parts for C-130 aircraft transporting supplies to victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami in Aceh.

He said Indonesia was trying to find permanent peace in Aceh, where rebels have been fighting for independence since the 1970s.

A round of peace talks between Aceh rebel leaders and the Indonesian government ended earlier this week. Sutarto said he had no information on whether the latest round would lead to an end of hostilities.

"Despite an effort to find a solution by dialogue, we are still continuing to conduct military operations against rebels, but it is limited," he said.

A number of Indonesian lawmakers have recently urged the government to end negotiations, saying rebels have no intention of dropping independence claims.

GAM rebels have been fighting for a separate state since 1976 in a conflict that has killed at least 15,000 people since 1990. Efforts to end the fighting collapsed in 2003, but the peace process was revived after the tsunami.

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