Subject: US Officials on Militias, Refugees, Reconstruction

Also: U.S. Military Official: E Timor's Success Crucial To Stability

The Washington File [Office of Int'l Information Programs, U.S. Dept. of State] 21 March 2000

U.S. Calls on Indonesian Military to End Support for Timor Militias (Soderberg says Jakarta must honor its pledges now)

By Judy Aita Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- At a United Nations Security Council meeting March 21 on the situation in East Timor, U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg called on the Indonesian Government to ensure an end to all militia activity along East Timor's border by disarming and disbanding militia groups that have been attacking both UN personnel and East Timor civilians.

"The Indonesian military as an institution has done little to address the recent militia attacks against United Nations personnel and East Timor civilians," she said, and "we're deeply disturbed by the reports ... of the Indonesian military's continued support for the militias operating in West Timor refugee camps and along the East-West border."

The United States has repeatedly urged the Indonesian Government to disarm and disband the militia groups, Soderberg said.

"We have been given assurances that these steps would be taken yet we have yet to see decisive action occurring," she continued.

Soderberg insisted that "Indonesia must disarm and disband the hard core militia and move them, especially their leaders, away from East Timor."

The Indonesian government "must also reassign remaining East Timorese members of the Indonesian army to other parts of Indonesia and end any military collaboration with the militias," she said.

Calling the situation in East Timor "unacceptable," Soderberg said the Security Council should hold another session soon to address the matter.

Soderberg said she did find positive news coming out of East Timor, however, saying the United States welcomes the news of a recent increase in the numbers of East Timorese returning.

The U.N. reports that more than 153,000 East Timorese refugees have returned and have been reintegrated into their original communities without incident. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated that about half of the total remaining refugees of 100,000 wish to return to East Timor.

The ambassador said that the United States has provided over $20 million in 1999 for a wide range of humanitarian and refugee needs. In 2000, the U.S. intends to contribute an additional $49 million in multilateral and bilateral humanitarian assistance including aid to East Timorese refugees still in the camps in East Timor. It is also contributing a total of $4.9 million to the UNTAET Trust Fund and the World Bank's Reconstruction Trust Fund.

She urged Indonesia to hold to its stated deadlines for ending support to the East Timorese refugees currently in West Timor, and to close the refugee camps in West Timor by the end of June.

---- Associated Press March 21, 2000

US Official: E Timor's Success Crucial To Stability

DILI, East Timor (AP)--The success of East Timor's struggle to become an independent country is crucial in promoting stability throughout neighboring Indonesia, a visiting senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

"This is an operation which has the attention of our senior leadership in Washington," said James Schear, the Department of Defense's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs.

He said guiding East Timor from a U.N.-administered territory to independence in a few years time was crucial, calling it "a necessary condition for our efforts to promote longer-term stability in Indonesia and a democratic transition there."

East Timor broke away from Indonesia last year after the majority of its population voted for independence in a U.N.-sponsored ballot. Hundreds of people were killed and most of the territory's infrastructure was destroyed in a violent rampage by pro-Jakarta militias that followed the announcement.

Schear, who was on a brief 24-hour visit to the capital Dili, refused to confirm rumors circulating in East Timor that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright may visit the half-island territory soon.

There are about 50 U.S. military personnel in East Timor, including 25 navy engineers working on humanitarian construction projects. There are no U.S. soldiers taking part in the peacekeeping activities.

The U.S. government has spent $61 million so far on its operations in East Timor.

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