Subject: New Zealand thumbs down, Australia up on military ties with Indonesia

Also AU: Pentagon to resume Indonesia ties

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

DPA, February 28, 2005

New Zealand not ready to restore military ties with Indonesia

WELLINGTON: New Zealand is not ready to restore cooperation with Indonesia's army, despite Washington's decision to resume full military education and training programs, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said on Monday.

Both the United States and New Zealand suspended military cooperation in protest over the brutality of Indonesian soldiers in East Timor during the former province's struggle for independence in the 1990s.

"The matter will be kept under review, but there are no plans for a change," Goff told Radio New Zealand from China where he is making an official visit.

The U.S. is reported to have lifted its ban in order to build ties with Indonesia in the global fight against terrorism.

Goff made it clear that New Zealand was far from happy with Indonesia's promised crackdown on its troops responsible for atrocities in East Timor.

"We had mass devastation and multiple killings, but nobody was found to be responsible," he said. "We would like to see those responsible held to account.

"That has been the reason why active military cooperation has not been resumed."

Prime Minister Helen Clark confirmed the issue was not on the government's agenda at this stage when she was questioned at a news conference after her weekly cabinet meeting on Monday.


The Australian

Pentagon to resume Indonesia ties

Sian Powell, Jakarta correspondent

February 28, 2005

INDONESIA has welcomed the Bush administration's decision to resume a training program for the Indonesian military that has been suspended since 1992.

But human rights groups vowed to campaign against the program, which was halted soon after Indonesian troops shot demonstrators in East Timor in 1991, causing a bloodbath that became known as the Santa Cruz massacre.

The Indonesian military has not reformed sufficiently to justify the restoration of the highly symbolic program, activists say. But proponents of its resumption argue that the best way of promoting human rights in the military is to foster the overseas training of Indonesian officers.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is a former general who trained in the US, and Australia has a military training program for Indonesian officers ­ barring those from the notorious special forces unit Kopassus.

Australia cut links with Kopassus after the Indonesian military-backed violence in East Timor in 1999 left 1400 people dead. But Defence Minister Robert Hill has said the resumption of full military ties between Australia and Indonesia is proceeding slowly but surely, and Kopassus and the Australian military have already made tentative steps towards restoring links.

It is likely the US decision will accelerate the full restoration of Australian-Indonesian military ties.

"Obviously Indonesia welcomes this development," government spokesman Marty Natalegawa said yesterday. "We have always felt the absence of mil-to-mil relations between the US and Indonesia does an injustice to the multi-dimensional relations of the US and Indonesia."

The US Congress had already approved the funding, so the program would restart immediately, according to a spokesman for the US embassy in Jakarta.

The US has long been keen to restore military ties with one of its important Muslim allies in the war against terror, regardless of the trenchant criticisms of human rights groups.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has determined that Indonesia has satisfied legislative conditions for restarting its full international military education and training program," State department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Before she certified Indonesian compliance, Dr Rice said the time was ripe for the renewal of military ties. "I think it's a good time to do that," she said, referring to Indonesia's successful presidential election last year, and military co-operation with the investigation into the 2002 murder of two Americans near the Freeport mine in Papua.

Following the 1992 restrictions, US sanctions on military relations were tightened in 1999 after the Indonesian army was accused of masterminding the wave of violence in East Timor during the months before and after the vote for independence. The US ban was written into law by Congress in 2002, when the Indonesian military was accused of playing a part in the Freeport murders.

The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Centre for Human Rights and the East Timor Action Network condemned the latest move as "short-sighted, a betrayal of the numerous victims of human rights violations by the Indonesian military"

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