Subject: US NGOs still harping on E Timor rights abuses issue

01/23/09 01:05

US NGOs still harping on E Timor rights abuses issue

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the United States were still harping on the issue of alleged human rights abuses in East Timor in relation to US military cooperation with Indonesia.

In response to ANTARA`s question, he said, US foreign policy under President Barack Obama, including on military and defense cooperation with Indonesia, would not change much.

"It will all depend also on its new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. Remember, until now Democratic Party members in the US Senate still hold a negative view on the Indonesian military as seen in their continuous questions about the 1999 case," he said.

He said President Obama would focus on settling domestic problems particularly the financial crisis, housing credits, healthcare and others.

"The Middle East problem and Indonesia would not be his priority. In view of that we must remain patient with regard to the lingering negative view on Indonesia particularly the military (TNI) and must continuously explain about reform efforts that have been taken in TNI," he said.

On the sticking stigma on the country`s army`s Kopassus unit the minister said the Indonesian government had always sought to wipe it out. "I am trying to make cooperation between the Indonesian and US elit army units to be able to revive again next year," he said.

Indonesia and the US resumed their defense cooperation in 2004, marked by the holding of "Indonesia-United States Security Dialogue (IUSSD) II in Washington.

The two countries agreed in the meeting to revive the Bilateral Defense Dialogue (USIBDD) which was halted in 1998.

In the fourth USIBDD dialogue in Jakarta in 2004 the two countries agreed to form six working groups to accomodate cooperation in the fields of intelligence, training, education, logistical affairs, communications, defense science and technology.

Meanwhile in the fifth USIBDD in Hawai the two sides agreed to reduce the number of the working groups to only four covering intelligence, training events, logistics and security assistance and education and specific program working groups.

To make the defense cooperation between the two countries especially after the revocation of the US military embargo on Indonesia the two countries also signed the USIBDD terms of reference containing the goal, structure, organization and responsibility of each working group. (*)

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