Subject: RT: Indonesia urges U.S. not to block aid over Timor

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Indonesia urges U.S. not to block aid over Timor

TOKYO, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Indonesia's chief economics minister Rizal Ramli urged the United States on Wednesday not to link its backing for badly needed foreign aid to progress on disarming violent pro-Jakarta militias in West Timor.

Speaking ahead of a donors' conference in Tokyo next week at which Indonesia will request $4.8 billion in aid, Ramli said he hoped Washington and other capitals would recognise the steps Jakarta had taken to break up the rampaging gangs.

``I would expect that the U.S. administration can differentiate and see us more objectively because we have done a lot of things to help solve this problem in West Timor,'' he told a news conference.

The United States has said failure to disarm the militias, which laid waste to much of East Timor when it voted to end Jakarta's rule last year, could jeopardise aid flows.

Asked about the U.S. stance, Ramli said: ``I hope the U.S. is more wise than that because at stake are the 200 million people of Indonesia who are going to need this international support.''

If the aid is forthcoming, growth will get a boost and a million additional jobs would be created, Ramli said.

Washington is not the only country that wants the Indonesian government to do more to disarm the gangs in return for support at the October 17-18 Consultative Group meeting (CGI).

``Our posture at the CGI will be supportive but with pressure to get on with it,'' Britain's international development secretary, Clare Short, told reporters in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Ramli, who held talks with Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa during his visit to Tokyo, said Japan by contrast was taking the welcome position that political questions should not be a major issue for donors next week.

He said the year-old government of President Abdurrahman Wahid did not deserve blame for a tragedy that had its roots in Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975, which was prompted by fears that communists would fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal of Portugal, the colonial power.

``East Timor and the problems of it are part of the Cold War in the early 1970s,'' Ramli said.

``It's unfair for us, the new team, to be blamed for all the historical baggage. I want the world to understand that and evaluate Indonesia on a more objective basis,'' he added.

The militia, based around camps housing 120,000 East Timorese refugees near the West Timor border, went on a systematic campaign of destruction after East Timor voted to end 23 years of sometimes brutal Indonesian rule last year.

That violence forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee the territory to West Timor. Around 180,000 remain.

Jakarta has promised to complete the seizure of weapons by Thursday, but earlier deadlines have been extended.


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