|Subject: RT: U.S. Defence Chief Calls For
Renewed Indonesia Ties
U.S. defence chief calls for renewed Indonesia ties
By Charles Aldinger
WASHINGTON, May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday expressed hope that the United States could soon resume severed military relations with Indonesia to bolster the war against terror in Asia.
"I think it is unfortunate that the United States does not today have military-to-military relationships with Indonesia," he said of ties slashed by Washington in 1999 after bloodshed swept East Timor when the territory voted to break from Jakarta's often brutal rule.
"The (military) linkages last over careers ... and I am certainly hopeful that we will be able to re-establish them in one way or another in the period ahead," Rumsfeld told reporters in response to questions after talks with Malaysia's Defense Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country and Washington worries that individuals and groups sympathetic to fugitive al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, accused of masterminding September 2001 attacks on America, could flourish in the hundreds of islands that make up that country.
Rumsfeld's comments came a week after Indonesian and U.S. defence officials wrapped up security talks in Jakarta that covered issues from terrorism to piracy, marking a small step toward resuming relations.
The U.S. Congress, which ordered the Pentagon to cut ties, has demanded an accounting of what happened when militias supported by the Indonesian military put the torch to East Timor in a murderous rampage.
'GREAT BELIEVER' IN MILITARY TIES
"I personally have for a great many years, over 30 years, been a great believer in the military-to-military relationships that the United States has developed with other countries over the decades," Rumsfeld said at a joint press conference with Malaysia's Najib.
No concrete measures to combat terrorism were unveiled at last week's meeting in Jakarta, but the two sides agreed to explore bilateral and regional cooperation in fighting piracy, a menace that haunts the vital shipping lanes that pass through the world's largest archipelago.
Rumsfeld, who also held talks on Thursday with Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, praised cooperation from Malaysia in the war on terror.
"The relationships between our two countries, from a military-to-military standpoint, have evolved and strengthened since they were initially established back in the mid-1980s," the secretary said, adding that some 1,500 officers and personnel from the Malaysian armed forces had participated in training in the United States.
"Malaysia is resolute and steadfast in our fight against global terror," Najib told reporters.
"Some of the steps we have taken include the arrest of something like 62 militants and terrorists in Malaysia. Cooperating with our neighbours, we have excellent exchange of military intelligence between Malaysia, the United States and our other allies and friends."
He said U.S. Navy SEAL (sea, air and land) troops train in Indonesia twice a year and that American Army special forces also train in Malaysia's jungle warfare school.
U.S. Dept. of Defense May 2, 2002
[excerpt from news conference with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld]
Q Mr. Secretary, on your relationship with Malaysia, you say you had excellent talks and that things are going well. What would you like to see in addition? Is there anything else out there that the two countries will be cooperating on?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the -- as the minister said, the relationship has evolved and strengthened and improved almost every year since the mid-1980s. It is a good relationship, a healthy relationship. The minister, as a matter of fact, invited me to visit Malaysia sometime later this year, when I might be able to be in the region, and I accepted and look forward to that. In terms of specifics, we don't have any specific new element of the relationship to announce today, other than to say that it's going along quite well.
Q Do you anticipate that the training will be continuing apace or would that by any way, shape or form increase in number?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The training has been continuing, and whether it's calibrated to go up or down or modestly change in some way, I'm not knowledgeable about for the coming year.
Q You met -- excuse me. You met with Lee Kuan Yew this morning. And Singapore, of course, also is cooperating with the United States in the war on terrorism.
SEC. RUMSFELD: It is.
Q One absent here is --
SEC. RUMSFELD: One what?
Q -- is a representative of Indonesia. You haven't had anybody from Indonesia here because of the mil-to-mil ties. Are you satisfied with cooperation the United States is receiving from Indonesia in the war on terrorism?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, as -- and we'll make that the last question. I, personally, have for a great many years, over 30 years, been a great believer in the military-to-military relationships that the United States has developed with other countries over the decades. I have seen many, many instances where it has enormously benefited our country, where people from other nations have come over here and developed relationships, had an opportunity to see how our military functions in a professional way with civilian control. They -- linkages last over careers.
And I think it is unfortunate that the United States does not today have military-to-military relationships with Indonesia, and I am certainly hopeful that we will be able to reestablish them in one way or another in the period ahead.
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