Subject: JP: Indonesia looks forward to reinstatement of US IMET program
The Jakarta Post November 30, 2002
Indonesia looks forward to reinstatement of IMET program
Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Indonesia has expressed optimism over the possibility of the United States Congress allowing Indonesian Military (TNI) officers to rejoin the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.
Congress is expected to make a decision sometime next month. If the program is reinstated, this could be considered as one step closer to the restoration of full military ties between the two countries.
Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said on Friday that significant political changes in favor of Indonesia had taken place ahead of next month's congressional session.
"The U.S. Congress is dominated by Republicans, who look more favorably on Indonesia. Due to the political changes that have taken place, the coming joint session might turn out to be beneficial for us," Hassan said.
"From the latest reports I have received, most of them (congressmen) agree on the need to improve military ties with Indonesia, and we just have to wait for the plenary session's decision," he claimed.
The foreign ministry's director for North and Central America, Dino Patti Djalal, also expressed optimism that the U.S. Congress would approve the restoration of the IMET program for Indonesia.
"It is a step up from only allowing sales of non-lethal equipment. Now they might be prepared to permit training for Indonesian soldiers," Dino said.
The U.S. government has been excluding TNI officers from the IMET program since the early 1990s following the TNI's massacre of East Timorese protesters in Santa Cruz in Dili.
The U.S. also halted arms sales to Indonesia following the mayhem in East Timor in 1999, when the territory voted to secede from Indonesia.
The European Union also imposed a military embargo on Indonesia following the East Timor violence of 1999. A year later, however, the EU lift its embargo
The U.S., however, has chosen to only partially lift its embargo pending the outcome of the ongoing trials in Indonesia of those responsible for human rights crimes in East Timor.
Given the U.S. non-lethal-equipment policy, President Megawati Soekarnoputri has been forced to look for other sources of weaponry in Eastern Europe.
Restoration of full military ties with the U.S. is still a remote possibility considering the verdicts brought in so far in the human rights trails.
All military and police defendants in the trails have been acquitted, and only civilian defendants, who also happen to be East Timorese in origin, have been convicted and sentenced by the ad hoc court.
Congress has repeatedly said that the calling to account of those responsible for violating human rights in East Timor would be a key precondition for the restoration of full military ties.
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