Subject: JP: Albright and Alwi discuss Maluku, E. Timor troubles

Jakarta Post July 30, 2000

Albright and Alwi discuss Maluku, E. Timor troubles

BANGKOK (JP): Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab and United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met here on Saturday to discuss the troubles in Maluku and the situation in East Timor.

Albright said afterwards that the discussions had included economic restructuring, regional conflict and sectarian violence -- "most notably that in Maluku".

She said Alwi had talked about removing troublemakers in Maluku out of the area.

Albright added that Washington "would look at how the international community could be of assistance" in ending the violence in the Maluku islands.

She did not elaborate, but Alwi indicated later that Indonesia was looking for humanitarian and financial assistance in resolving the conflict.

In his explanation to journalists, Alwi referred time and time again to the "financial consequences" of the government's actions in trying to resolve the matter.

"We would like to transform the destructive elements (in Maluku) into positive elements through employment of course," Alwi said.

"Before that, reconciliation has to be achieved, and before reconciliation is achieved, the troublemakers have to be removed, and of course we will need every possible assistance," he said, stressing that Indonesia would not accept military assistance.

Alwi pointed out that the achievement of these objectives "implies financial consequences".

"All this has been discussed with Madeleine Albright and the United States is more than willing to provide assistance according to the Indonesian proposal," he said.

Alwi conceded that some elements of the military might be involved as provocateurs in the Maluku violence.

"Yes, of course. As you are aware a small element of the military is involved," he said.

Alwi said the government was taking steps to remove military elements perceived to be backing a certain side in the conflict, but added that this also had "financial consequences".

"If you are removing or getting 10,000 people from one place to another you need logistics," he said.

Commenting on the overall situation in Indonesia, Albright said she had reviewed the considerable progress made in the country.

"I reiterated U.S. support for the country's democratic transition and our desire to help Indonesia's people during this challenging period," Albright said.

"We also discussed the problems in East Timor including the need to resolve the refugee issue".

On the East Timor refugee situation, Alwi said he had discussed with Albright along with his Canadian, New Zealand, Japanese and Australian counterparts on the need for international political will to resolve the situation of the refugee camps in Indonesia's West Timor.

He stressed the necessity of ensuring a conducive climate which would ensure East Timor itself was ready to receive the refugees back; and the need to create a situation where the refugees would recognize that they could attain the same facilities in East Timor as they do in camps in West Timor.

"If it is agreed by the international community that it can be easily done (repatriating the refugees). But right now there is no concrete agreement as regards to the appropriate preparations in East Timor to receive them (the refugees) back," he said.

If there is an agreement and political will to do so, Indonesia could then easily close the camps on its side of the border.

According to Alwi, his counterparts had responded positively to this proposal.

"They will conduct planning to see how this idea can be implemented in the near future," said Alwi, who was with other Asia-Pacific foreign ministers to attend a series of security dialogs under the aegis of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that ended Saturday. (mds)

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