Subject: DPA: U.S. Military Support for Reconstruction Outside UN Chain

Deutsche Presse-Agentur April 3, 2000, Tuesday, BC Cycle Commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet visits East Timor

Dili, East Timor

The top officer of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific is scheduled to begin a two-day visit to East Timor on Tuesday amid increasing efforts by Washington to provide humanitarian aid to the territory.

However, U.S. support for East Timor's reconstruction has been directed outside the United Nations chain of command, known as UNTAET, the U.N. transitional authority in East Timor.

The United States has set up its own U.S. Support Group for East Timor (USGET), comprising 25 officers based in Dili who coordinate with U.N. agencies to repair school buildings and provide medical aid.

But, according to Allan Nairn, an analyst on U.S. relations with Indonesia and East Timor, the main concern of Admiral Dennis Blair, the U.S. Navy's top commander in the Pacific, and defence officials in Washington is the restoration of military ties with the Indonesian armed forces despite opposition to this from East Timorese leaders and UNTAET.

The United Nations and Indonesian human rights groups are pressing the Indonesian attorney general's office in Jakarta to issue indictments against a number of top generals named in investigations of the killings and destruction last year in East Timor.

Washington's local diplomatic representative has confirmed that more than 50 U.S. communications and intelligence officers are stationed on board the floating hotel ship, Amos, anchored in Dili harbour.

During his visit, Blair was scheduled to meet the U.N.'s chief administrator in Dili, Sergio de Mello, as well as the U.N. commander of peacekeeping forces and U.S. aid officials.

Last year, the Pentagon was criticised for its reluctance to cut its ties to the Indonesian military at a time when the international community was lobbying to send a peacekeeping force to Dili to stop the mayhem and murder in East Timor.

Admiral Blair is known to have enjoyed warm relations with General Wiranto, a former commander of Indonesia's armed forces, last year and many Indonesian military officers have received their training in the United States since the 1970s.

Wiranto, now suspended from his cabinet post by President Abdurrahman Wahid, for his alleged involvement in widespread human rights violations said to have been committed members of the military under his command, enjoyed cordial relations with Blair before the August 30 referendum in which East Timorese voters overwhelmingly chose independence from Indonesia, said Nairn, an American academic. dpa tf wp

EDITOR-NOTE: Eds: admiral blair is to begin visit on tuesday


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