Subject: NYT & WP: Next to Bush, Indonesian Backs Iraq Timetable

also: WP in Bogor: No Decisions Yet on Iraq Troop Levels, Bush Says; Bush says supports Indonesia biofuel initiatives; and JP: Bush, Susilo pledge closer relations

The New York Times November 20, 2006

Next to Bush, Indonesian Backs Iraq Timetable

By JOHN O'NEIL

Standing side by side with President Bush, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia today called for the involvement of other countries in fashioning a peace settlement for Iraq that could lead to a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces.

In a news conference during a one-day visit to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, Mr. Bush said he had not made any decisions on new approaches to the violence in Iraq, and that he was still gathering advice from the military and other sources.

Mr. Yudhoyono called for the involvement of more countries in fashioning a peace plan, instead of leaving the question entirely to the United States and Britain. "The global community must also be responsible for solving the problems in Iraq," he said.

Mr. Bush has come under increasing pressure at home and abroad to enter into talks with Syria and Iran, as well as other neighbors of Iraq, to avoid regional instability.

Later in the session, when an Indonesian reporter asked President Yudhonoyo whether he had advised Mr. Bush to begin to withdraw troops as soon as possible, Mr. Bush interrupted to say that he had not.

Mr. Yudhoyono then said that he believed a "triple track" was needed in Iraq: national reconciliation and the strengthening of the central government; the involvement of "other parties"; and reconstruction.

As part of that process, he said, the deployment of new security forces in Iraq could be accompanied by a parallel disengagement of American military forces "on a proper timetable."

Mr. Bush's visit has been the subject of daily protests on the streets of the capital of Jakarta, where the Iraq war is deeply unpopular. Videotape broadcast this morning showed thousands of people marching and carrying banners.

The meeting took place in Bogor, a hilltop suburb of Jakarta where Mr. Bush arrived by helicopter during a pouring rain. No protesters were visible to him during the trip, according to a pool report.

Mr. Yudhoyono's remarks came a day after Syria's foreign minister said during a visit to Baghdad that his government was prepared to help stabilize Iraq, and called for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops, saying that it would help reduce the violence.

Also today, the senior spokesman for the American military in Iraq told reporters that Al Qaeda now longer existed as an effective and organized force in the country, although he said that independent cells continued to operate and were still capable of occasional "sensational" attacks.

The spokesman, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, said in a televised briefing that Al Qaeda has "become extremely disorganized" and said that American and Iraqi efforts against it were more effective than ever before.

In Baghdad, a deputy health minister, Hakim al-Zamily, survived an attack on his convoy that killed two of his bodyguards and led to shootouts in the city's center between the gunmen and Iraqi army forces, according to an Interior Ministry official.

On Sunday, another deputy minister in the health department, Ammar al-Saffar, was kidnapped by heavily armed gunmen dressed in the uniforms of Iraqi security forces, who stormed his house in northern Baghdad and took him away in a convoy of vehicles, officials said.

A roadside bomb struck the convoy of another junior minister today, and another prominent Shiite politician was shot dead on Saturday, according to Reuters, which said that at least 100 people had been killed or found slain in the country since Sunday morning.

------------------------------------

The Washington Post November 20, 2006

No Decisions Yet on Iraq Troop Levels, Bush Says

By Mike Fletcher Washington Post Staff Writer

BOGOR, Indonesia, Nov. 20 -- President Bush said Monday that he has made no decisions about altering the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, and he refused to discuss the pros and cons that would accompany such a decision.

"I haven't made any decisions about troop increases or troop decreases, and won't until I hear from a variety of sources, including our own United States military," Bush said. "They will be bringing forth the suggestions and recommendations to me here as quickly as possible."

Bush made his comments at a time when several on-going reviews are expected to begin recommending changes in Iraq policy -- a process likely to be encouraged by Democrats who won control of the House and Senate in recent midterm elections.

One review, being conducted by the Pentagon, has laid out three basic options ranging from quick withdrawal to significantly increasing the number of U.S. troops in the war. An intermediate option would also require an increase in troops, if only for the short term.

Even with the endorsement of a Pentagon panel, or that of a specially appointed Iraq Study Group headed by former secretary of state James A. Baker III, such a step would be controversial, particularly as Democrats move into control of Congress after campaigning on the need for a plan to decrease U.S. exposure in the country.

Bush made his remarks during a news conference here following a meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, near the end of an Asian trip that included attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam.

While Bush would not comment on whether he should adjust troop levels, Yudhoyono said the United States should consider disengaging from Iraq, but only in conjunction with increased international cooperation to stabilize and rebuild the country.

"The global community must be also responsible in solving the problem in Iraq," Yudhoyono said. "It is not only the responsibility . . . of the United States."

Bush's visit to the world's most populous Muslim nation brought him in close proximity to the anti-American anger that has intensified across the Islamic world since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. In the days prior to his arrival, several thousand demonstrators took to the streets in nearby Jakarta protesting Bush's visit here as well as U.S. foreign policy. The protests in Jakarta were replicated in cities across the country.

There were reports of threats against the president's party and security was tight for his arrival.

Bush shrugged off the protests, saying: "I applaud a society where people are free to come and express their opinions."

Bush did not see any of the protests. After his arrival at the airport in Jakarta from Ho Chi Minh City he flew by helicopter to meet with the Indonesian president even as thunderstorms pounded the area.

Bush's entire 6 1/2-hour visit to this country, the world's fourth largest, was confined to the gated and heavily guarded Bogor Palace, an elegant 19th-century compound used for presidential events.

But while Bush may be unpopular among many Indonesians, his administration has promoted increasingly close relations with the government here. After Congress suspended military assistance programs with Indonesia in 1992 and again in 1999 in response to human rights violations in East Timor, the programs were restored last year.

Meanwhile, the two nations have cooperated closely on anti- terrorism efforts. Indonesia has been the scene of deadly terrorist assaults, including attacks in Bali in 2002 and 2005 and two others in Jakarta. The United States was also among the first nations to respond following the devastating 2004 tsunami that killed tens of thousands in Indonesia and is helping the nation develop an early-warning system for the massive waves.

Before arriving here, Bush spent half a day in Ho Chi Minh City, where his focus remained on the new Vietnam. Rather than taking in any of the sites associated with the Vietnam War, the president visited a research institute working to prevent the spread of avian flu and AIDS. Bush also toured the stock market there, before meeting with business people -- some of whom returned to Vietnam after living in the United States.

"I am amazed at the size of the growth and the fact that there are people beginning to realize dreams," Bush said, praising the nation's recent strong economic growth.

When the president arrived in Ho Chi Minh City from Hanoi Sunday night, Air Force One suffered a brake malfunction upon touchdown, causing a safety system to blow the valves out of six of the plane's tires. While the mishap posed no danger to the president, it almost caused him to use a smaller backup plane for his trip here.

But Air Force mechanics were able to make repairs in time in time for the president's flight here. After his news conference, Bush and first lady Laura Bush were the guests for a dinner, the final official event of Bush's trip to Southeast Asia. Afterward, the president departed for Honolulu, where he was to have breakfast with troops on Tuesday and receive a briefing from military commanders before returning to Washington.

---------------------------------

Bush says supports Indonesia biofuel initiatives

BOGOR, Indonesia, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The United States is "very supportive" of biofuel initiatives, President George Bush said on Monday during a visit to Indonesia, which is trying to develop that sector as it copes with growing energy demand.

Bush and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the issue was a major topic in their discussions, and that the United States had agreed to help Indonesia with technology in the area.

The United States, the world's largest economy, is looking at efforts to rely more on biofuel and cut reliance on imported oil while Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country and its second largest palm oil producer, recently increased its efforts to produce more biofuel, including from palm oil.

"I am very supportive of biofuel initiatives, starting in our own country. It's important for us to develop alternative ways to power our vehicles if we want to become less dependent on oil," Bush told reporters in the hill town of Bogor south of Jakarta.

Bush, on his second visit to Southeast Asia's largest economy, was speaking at a joint news conference with Yudhoyono.

"The president and I spent a fair amount of time talking about the ability to develop biofuels, particularly in Indonesia's case from sugar cane as well as palm oil, and the technologies are available to convert sugar into ethanol," Bush said, referring to Yudhoyono.

Indonesia has said the bulk of its biofuel production will come from palm oil-based biodiesel produced by the private sector.

Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's two leading palm producers, plan to set aside up to 40 percent of their output for biodiesel, with Jakarta estimating 600,000 tonnes of crude palm oil will be used by the biodiesel industry next year.

Indonesia's calendar year 2007 palm oil production is forecast to rise to 17.60 million tonnes from an estimated 15.90 million in 2006, overtaking Malaysia as the world's largest producer, industry sources said.

Some Indonesian plantation companies have announced plans to build biodiesel plants, such as PT Bakrie Sumatra Plantations Tbk, PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk and privately- owned PT Asian Agri with a combined annual capacity of around 450,000 tonnes.

Several foreign companies also plan to enter the Indonesian biofuel industry, like Malaysia's Golden Hope Plantations, Genting Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd, and Singapore's Wilmar Holding Pte. Ltd.

As part of the government's plans, two state-owned companies, PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia and PT Perkebunan Nusantara III (PTPN III), plan to build biofuel plants using palm oil and sugarcane.

Earlier this year, the government allowed retailers to blend 10 percent of biofuels into fuel products. State oil and gas company Pertamina is retailing biodiesel, made up of 5 percent crude palm oil blended with 95 percent diesel oil.

---------------------------------

The Jakarta Post (web site) November 20, 2006

Bush, Susilo pledge closer relations

JAKARTA (JP): Visiting U.S. President George W. Bush and his host President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged on Monday for closer relations between both countries through a number of cooperations.

Both presidents discussed a number of issues ranging from bilateral ties to global issues at Bogor Presidential Palace, Susilo said after holding talks with Bush.

"We will cooperate in health issues especially the avian influenza, education, alternative energy sources such as biofuels," Susilo said in a media conference aired live by state-run TVRI.

"We will also work together in natural disaster prevention with the United States providing a tsunami early warning system."

Susilo also thanked the United States, as well as other countries, for the help given to Indonesia following the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami.

Both presidents also discussed global issues of North Korea, Iraq and Palestine.

Meanwhile, Bush said he was looking forward to build relations with Indonesia that "lasts beyond decades to come".

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service


Back to November menu
October  
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu