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Subject: USDOD: Background Briefing on Cohen Trip
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 20:12:02 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <etan@etan.org>

[Indonesia parts only]

*EPF203 07/28/98 TRANSCRIPT: BACKGROUND BRIEFING ON COHEN AUSTRALIA/ASIA TRIP (Cohen to emphasize U.S., Asia security roles during trip) (3330)

Washington --Secretary of Defense William Cohen will emphasize the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to U.S. security and the importance of the United States to the region's security during his July 27-August 4 trip to Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, according to a senior defense department official.

"Each of these countries in different ways the U.S. has very important relations with. Australia is obviously a very, very close ally. And we work in all aspects," the official said during a July 21 background briefing. ...

"The immediate focus, of course, is on the political reform in Indonesia. And from a defense point of view that's important both in and of itself and it's important to maintaining stability and security," the official said.

Following is the official Department of Defense transcript of the background briefing:

(begin transcript)

Background Briefing

Secretary Cohen's Trip to Australia and Asia

Tuesday, July 21, 1998, 2:40 p.m. EDT.

Senior Defense Official: Without further ado, some technical stuff. The trip starts on the 27th --

Q: I have one for you, sir. For those of us who have no idea, could you tell us who you are?

A: Well, there's a (inaudible) -- I'm a senior defense official. The meetings will start on -- I think it's Thursday, the 30th. And then he leaves Australia on Friday, in the evening. He gets to Djakarta, meetings on Saturday and Sunday morning in Djakarta. He flies to the Philippines and then meetings in the Philippines on the 3rd and leaves the Philippines on the 4th.

He will meet in all of these places with senior officials. And in Australia, as you well know, this is a AUSMIN -- Australian Ministerials. And it will be the Secretary and Secretary of State. And they will meet with their counterparts -- the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of defense.

In Indonesia, the Secretary will meet with President Habibe, with General Wiranto, with the foreign minister, and with the Economic Minister Ginandjar.

...

When we get to Indonesia, he will be one of a series of visitors that have been there relatively recently -- both State and Treasury have been there, as well as has the Secretary, and General Ralston was there last week -- last week.

Indonesia is obviously a very important country. This whole area, as you well know, is an area of high degree of interest to the Secretary. And his being in Australia, his going to Indonesia, and his going to the Philippines is reflective of that interest. He will meet with -- as I said -- President Habibe, with General Wiranto. We will talk about issues including the importance of continuing reform -- political reform in the country. We'll talk about the importance of Indonesia to the overall region.

...

And let me stop there. I mean, I'm happy to take all the questions you want. But that just gives you an idea what we're doing generally.

...

Q: And speaking of the stability in Indonesia, will there be any discussion of IMET, JSET[sic - JCET], and those kinds of things in Indonesia, particularly in regard to the Kopassas members who were arrested not too long ago for -- allegedly disappearing some of the demonstrators (inaudible)?

A: That's actually a lot of questions. Let me step back and say a few things. When General Ralston was there this past week, he announced that we would start what I would call a rather modest military relationship in Indonesia.

We had continued having some activities with Indonesians outside of Indonesia. But because of the troubles and the difficulties we had halted for a while in Indonesia. Now, the focus of what we are going to re-engage towards are on things like engineering, medical, logistics, staff talks, and the like. We will not restart JSETs, which were stopped. We do have so called IMET which is used to train Indonesians here in the U.S., but again with the focus on things like how to run a military -- personnel kinds of issues, logistics, civil-military relations.

We're not going to be talking about starting -- I can't say there won't be a word mentioned about the desirability, but it's not a focus of the trip to talk about starting full IMET again. That's an issue with respect to the Congress.

With respect to the issue of the arrests, it's been our position and Admiral Prueher when he was there, General Ralston, that it's very, very important for the Indonesians to undertake the necessary investigations and the like. That continues to be our position. They have to do it. They seem to be doing it. So that seems to be a step forward.

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