Subject: Jakarta optimistic the US will lift arms embargo

also: [AP] Indonesia Hopes Bush Admin Will Lift Arms Embargo

Jakarta optimistic the US will lift arms embargo

JAKARTA, Jan 29 (AFP) - A senior Indonesian minister expressed his confidence Monday that the new US administration of George W. Bush will lift an arms embargo imposed by his predecessor over East Timor.

"I am optimistic that the military sanctions will be lifted because the Bush government is more pragmatic and realistic," Foreign Minister Shihab told journalists at the presidential palace.

The military assistance ban, imposed on Indonesia by the administration of ex-president Bill Clinton, came after pro-Jakarta militia launched a wave of violence in East Timor after its residents voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesia in 1999.

The terror campaign prompted some 300,000 East Timorese to flee to Indonesian West Timor. Some 100,000 refugees are still living in squalid camps in West Timor.

The US has insisted that Jakarta clean up its act in West Timor before the ban is lifted or eased.

East Timorese militias, who are said to have the run of the camps in West Timor, in September last year killed three UN workers in the border town of Atambua.

The murders prompted an international outcry and the UN Security Council issued a resolution demanding Jakarta disband and disarm the militias in West Timor.

Shihab did not say what warranted his confidence, but said that the lifting of the embargo was "necessary for the ongoing process of democracy" in Indonesia.

Shihab also said he hoped to meet with Bush's Secretary of State Colin Powell in March to push the issue further.

Shihab's statement came after the foreign minister of East Timor's transitional government, Jose Ramos Horta, threw his support last week behind Jakarta's calls for the easing of the embargo.

Horta -- who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his long opposition to the Indonesian occupation of East Timor -- said the lifting or easing of the ban would help Indonesia in dealing with problems in its restive provinces, especially in West Timor and the Malukus.

"Because of the sanctions in the past two years, they (the Indonesian armed forces) are stretched and (facing) enormous difficulties in logistics and in the delivery of troops and police" to restive areas, Horta said last Wednesday.

Indonesia has been facing mounting separatism in the provinces of Aceh and Irian Jaya at the two ends of the archipelago, as well as over two years of bloody sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians in the Maluku islands.


Associated Press January 29, 2001

Indonesia Hopes Bush Admin Will Lift Arms Embargo

JAKARTA (AP)--Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab Monday said he hoped the new U.S. administration would lift a ban on the sale of weapons and military spare parts to Indonesia.

Speaking to journalists at the presidential palace, Shihab said he expected newly elected U.S. President George W. Bush to take a more conciliatory approach in his relationship with Indonesia.

"I am optimistic that military sanctions will be revoked as the Bush government is more pragmatic and realistic," he said.

Shihab said he planned to discuss the possibility of reinstating bilateral military cooperation with Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington in March.

Former President Bill Clinton's administration broke off all military ties with Indonesia in 1999 after its troops and their militia auxiliaries rampaged through East Timor after the territory voted overwhelmingly for independence in a U.N.-sponsored ballot.

President Abdurrahman Wahid - who assumed office after Timor's destruction - has long called for the sanctions to be lifted.

Air force and navy commanders have complained that much of their transport fleets have been rendered inoperable due to the lack of spare parts, and that it has becoming increasingly difficult to maintain security in troubled parts of the sprawling archipelagic nation.

The United States has been the main supplier of weapons and military equipment to Indonesia during the 32-year dictatorship of former president Suharto.

Earlier this month, Wahid's government signed an agreement with India for the purchase and maintenance of military hardware.

Bush's administration has not yet commented publicly on whether it will lift the sanctions


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