Subject: New Zealand Ban On Indon Military Ties Will Remain: PM

NZ Ban On Military Ties With Indonesia Will Remain: PM

WELLINGTON, April 4 (AP)--New Zealand's five-year ban on military ties with Indonesia will remain in place, Prime Minister Helen Clark said Monday, despite steps by the U.S. and Australia to reestablish cooperation with Jakarta.

Speaking on the eve of a visit by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Clark said she didn't expect that severed military links between the two countries would be discussed.

"I'd be surprised because it's not something we've been looking at as any change in the relationship," she said. "I haven't got anything to say about that at all."

New Zealand used to train Indonesian military personnel and hold exercises with the country's forces until 1999 when Wellington suspended ties after Jakarta-directed militia went on a rampage in its former province of East Timor, killing 1,400 people.

New Zealand has consistently said it has no plans to alter the ban on contact with Indonesia's military, despite moves by the United States and Australia to reestablish ties.

Clark said talks with Yudhoyono, who is due to visit Wednesday and Thursday, would focus on Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific regional issues, including security and economic relations.

New Zealand's assistance to Indonesia to help with the devastation caused by the Dec. 26 tsunami would also be discussed, Clark said. The multimillion dollar aid package demonstrated that New Zealand "wishes to be a good neighbor in times of crisis," she said.

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