Subject: JP: New U.S. envoy Hume at ease in Jakarta post

The Jakarta Post Saturday, August 04, 2007

New U.S. envoy Hume at ease in Jakarta post

Tony Hotland, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

New U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron R. Hume said Friday he felt at ease assigned in a Muslim majority country, and did not find the anti-U.S. sentiment here to be threatening.

In fact, Hume said he had offered to represent Washington in Jakarta to help foster relations between two of the world's largest countries.

"I've been fortunate enough to have lived in Muslim majority countries a number of times and have many friends in these countries. I feel at home and I look forward to relating to friends here and in Indonesian society at large," he said.

Hume, who is proficient in Arabic, presented his credentials to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday.

His earlier assignments included Italy, Tunisia, Syria and Lebanon. More recently, he served as ambassador to Algeria and South Africa, and as charge d'affaires to conflict-torn Sudan.

Asked if he had any experiences from his assignments in Muslim majority countries that he could apply in Indonesia, Hume could not think of anything in particular.

On the anti-U.S. sentiment in Muslim majority countries like Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, Hume said he did not find it threatening.

"When other people have a legitimate different perspective than we do on international affairs, it's understandable. I don't welcome that, but I respect that.

"I don't find that threatening that there are people who don't (agree with the U.S.). Americans are, for example, welcomed in Indonesia, so it's mostly a question of some of our policies," he said.

Hume also highlighted Washington's interest in settling past human rights abuses in former Indonesian province East Timor, particularly around the time of the 1999 independence referendum.

"Accountability for such cases in the past is something of great interest to us, but it's essentially your responsibility as Indonesians. What's important for us is there's some resolution accepted by the two countries immediately concerned."

The UN, where the U.S. is one of the five permanent members to the Security Council, has boycotted the work of the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) on the basis that it allows amnesty for serious crimes.

But Hume said that the U.S. "was not in the same position with regard to that".

The commission is seeking to summon UN officials to testify at its hearings.

The career diplomat said he also was eager to improve business relations between the two nations, especially in the energy sector.

Hume also praised the security situation in Indonesia, citing the absence of terrorist attacks against Western interests since October 2005.

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service

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