Subject: Indonesia Presses for US Military Ties, Access to JI Leader

Agence France Presse Friday, July 2, 2004

Indonesia Presses for Military Ties with US, Access to JI Leader

Indonesia pressed for the resumption of full military ties with the United States and access to top terror suspect Hambali, an official said.

The request to interview Hambali was made by Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda in talks with US Secretary of State Colin Powell Friday on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Jakarta.

"He (Powell) listened and promised to bring it up with his government in Washington," said Dino Pati Djalal, director for North and Central American affairs at the Indonesian foreign ministry.

Djalal said access to Hambali has become more urgent following the arrest of suspects blamed for bomb attacks in recent years.

Hambali has been in US custody at a secret location since his arrest in Thailand last August. The Indonesian is believed to have been Al-Qaeda's Asian representative as well as a leading figure in the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant group.

JI is blamed for a string of attacks, including the Bali blasts in October 2002 which killed 202 people and the Marriott bomb in Jakarta last August which killed 12.

Indonesia is preparing to put JI's alleged former chief Abu Bakar Bashir on trial for terrorism.

Indonesian and Filipino militants caught in the southern Philippines have also told prosecutors in Manila that Hambali funded a spate of bomb attacks in Manila that left scores dead in 2000.

Djalal said Jakarta is also seeking "full normalization of military relations" with the United States following the end of a joint investigation which Jakarta says cleared its army of involvement in the killing of two American teachers in Papua province in August 2002.

"We hope this will happen soon. Our military relations have been neglected for long," he told reporters.

US justice authorities last month charged Free Papua Movement rebel Anthonius Wamang with the murders. The movement has been fighting a sporadic separatist guerrilla war since 1963 in Papua.

The two teachers were among a group 10 Americans and one Indonesian who were ambushed near a huge gold and copper mine operated by a US firm.

Washington halted most military-to-military contacts after Indonesian troops ran riot in East Timor in 1999. US legislators have said they wanted an accounting for these and other abuses before ties can resume, but the Papua case was seen as the major immediate obstacle.

Initial investigation suggested that Indonesian troops may have been involved.

Powell was in Jakarta to attend the annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, the only security and political forum in the Asia-Pacific.

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