Subject: USGOV: State Dept briefing on military ties



Q I want to go to another report that I think you'll be able to talk about, and that is the story about the U.S. and Indonesia resuming military ties.

MR. REEKER: Indonesia. Yes. In one of our nation's fine newspapers. (Searches documents.) I did read that report.

The Indonesian government has demonstrated its interest in pursuing reform, including in the military area, where it's moved to establish civilian control over the military and accountability for the military abuses in East Timor and throughout Indonesia. So we're going to continue to look for further progress in this area, and we support changes that will result in fundamental improvements in governance and protection of human rights in Indonesia.

We have been looking at ways to encourage this positive change in the Indonesian military, and in doing that, looking at our military- to-military relationship as part of the effort. But let me stress that no final decisions have been made in that regard on resuming military cooperation with Indonesia. And, of course, we'll be consulting with Congress before initiating any fundamental change of our current policy.

Q Is there even a slight change?

MR. REEKER: What you may have noted is that we decided earlier this month -- and I think we may have spoken about it at the time -- to invite some Indonesian Air Force officers to observe the exercises in Thailand I think called Cobra Gold, which they did. And we also authorized Indonesian participation in a humanitarian assistance- disaster relief exercise that I believe involved Marine and Navy equipment and -- I don't want to say "soldiers" because they're not soldiers. If they're Marines, they're from the Navy -- but people. We had informed interested members of Congress of those decisions which, let me stress again, were not part of a change in our fundamental policy. And if you want more information on those specific things I'd send you to DOD --

Q Right, right. But from -- but I'm talking diplomatically and -- diplomatically, militarily from where it was when there was a suspension of all -- there are small incremental steps being taken, although there has been no final --

MR. REEKER: I wouldn't see those as small incremental steps. Those were two individual decisions to include them in that.

As you know, in September the president suspended virtually all military-to-military ties during the violence and chaos in East Timor to promote Jakarta in working with the multinational peacekeeping force to restore order there. So there's definitely an interest that's been demonstrated by the Indonesians in pursuing reform, particularly civilian control over the military, which, as you know, we consider extremely important, and accountability, which they've taken steps to do.

So we're looking for further progress. And as we watch for that progress and trying to find ways we can encouraging positive reform, we will be examining our own military-to-military relationship. But no decisions have been made, so the basic policy established in September remains.

In the back, and then Terry.

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