Subject: Cohen: U.S. closely watching Indonesia military
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 11:26:11 -0400

U.S. closely watching Indonesia military - Cohen

By Charles Aldinger

TORONTO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The United States will not restore military cooperation with Indonesia until Jakarta's armed forces adopts ``international standards of proper behavior,'' U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the end of a meeting of NATO defense ministers, Cohen said Washington will watch the Indonesian military closely after suspending all joint training and other cooperation programs on Sept. 9 during the bloodbath in East Timor.

``We would hope that reinstitution or rekindling of those military programs can be achieved at some future time,'' he told reporters in response to questions.

But the secretary stressed that any move would depend on ``what action is taken by the military to correct what was done in East Timor, what actions are taken to reform the military to conform to what we believe are international standards of proper behavior.''

``Much will depend on the Indonesian military -- what it does in the future -- before we can restore those programs.'' Some members of the U.S. Congress have suggested military ties with Indonesia should be permanently cut because elements of the military stood by while rampaging militias killed hundreds of pro-independence civilians in the former Portuguese colony.

Cohen said the United States was maintaining military-to-military contacts with Indonesia so that it could talk with that country's defense minister and military chief General Wiranto in case of new crisis there.

``We think it is important to maintain the military-to-military contacts so that we are in a position to call upon the military leadership to respond in an affirmative fashion in times of crisis,'' he said. ``It is not in our interest to sever those contacts and then when crisis erupts ... we do not have an ability to talk to anyone.''

In addition to freezing all military programs including joint exercises and exchanges of officers for training, the Pentagon also suspended an invitation to Wiranto to attend a meeting of Asia-Pacific defense chiefs in Hawaii in October.

The U.S. Congress, concerned with humanitarian rights violations in Indonesia, had already sharply limited military aid and training to Jakarta. The total U.S. military aid package to Jakarta this year was only $476,000.

Cohen to visit Indonesia for talks

WASHINGTON, Sept 24 (AFP) - US Defense Secretary William Cohen departs next week for talks with senior government officials in Indonesia, Australia and other Southeast Asian countries, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The visit comes amid persistent tension in East Timor as an Australian-led international force acts to restore order and end bloodshed by armed gangs opposed to independence from Indonesia, which has ruled the territory since 1975.

No date was given for his Cohen's arrival in Jakarta, which was shaken by student riots this week.

Cohen, who departs Monday, also will visit Darwin, Australia, the staging area for the international force, and three other southeast Asian countries -- Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, the Pentagon said.

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