Subject: Cohen Says US Reestablishing Military Ties With Indonesia

Associated Press July 17, 2000

Cohen Says US Reestablishing Military Ties With Indonesia

SYDNEY (AP)--U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen confirmed Monday that the U.S. is reestablishing military links with Indonesia. But he denied his country is selling arms to Jakarta.

"There have been reports that the United States has resumed arms sales to Indonesia. Those reports are incorrect," Cohen told reporters in Sydney where he was meeting his Australian counterpart, John Moore.

"What we have tried to do is to reengage Indonesia on a military-to-military level."

That policy will bear fruit later this month when U.S. and Indonesian forces are scheduled to carry out joint exercises close to the port of Surabaya in the east of Indonesia's main island, Java.

The exercises, involving naval landing vessels and marines, are designed to train the forces in providing humanitarian assistance to coastal regions hit by earthquakes.

For several years, the U.S. government has blocked Indonesians from programs at federally funded military institutions such as West Point, citing human rights concerns.

And last year, the Clinton administration froze military relations following the involvement of the Indonesian army in violence that broke out last year in East Timor following a vote by the province in favor of independence from Indonesia.

The U.S. has stated it will continue to exclude Indonesia's army from joint exercises, focusing instead on its navy, marines and air force - which weren't implicated in human rights abuses in East Timor.

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