Subject: AN: US-Indo Military Cooperation Difficult



The US supports Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid in his effort to uphold civilian control over the military and to reform the National Defence Forces (TNI), Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Rust M Deming said in a statement issued here yesterday.

But US-Indonesia relations in the military field were "still in a difficult situation," he added.

Any restoration of US-Indonesia relations in the defence field must reflect a concrete change in Indonesia and a positive tendency in the reform of the TNI, Deming said.

Before Deming's statement, 35 US non-governmental organisations had sent a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urging Washington not to restore its relations with and not to resume its military aid to Indonesia until there were concrete results from the TNI's internal reforms, including the dissolution of the army's elite unit Kopassus and the Strategic Military Intelligence Agency (BAIS).

In his testimony before the US Congress Committee on International Relations, Deming said military relations between the US and Indonesia were still in a difficult situation.

Military-to-military relations during the past few years had been limited because of US concerns about human rights violations in East Timor, Aceh, Irian Jaya and other places, he said.

Military relations between the two countries had also been hampered because of US concerns about how Indonesia was dealing with parties believed responsible for the violence committed by the military under former president Soeharto's regime.

Among the restrictions imposed on Indonesia was a ban on Indonesian military officials to take part in a routine programme for joint US-Indonesia military exercises.

In the programme called IMET Indonesian military officers were trained in maintaining a military judicial system, military code of conduct, civilian control over the military and human rights protection.

Purchase by and transfer to Indonesia of US-made arms were also limited.

Joint military exercises with Indonesia (JCET) were frozen since 1998 following other violations by TNI. None of these programmes had so far been restored, he said.

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