Subject: U.S. praises RI-Timor Leste solution

also Condoleezza Rice Underlines Need For Indonesian Military Reform

The Jakarta Post

Thursday, July 24, 2008

U.S. praises RI-Timor Leste solution

Kornelius Purba and Tony Hotland, The Jakarta Post, Singapore

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday expressed her appreciation over the findings of an joint government investigation into human rights abuses in the former East Timor.

The report concluded that gross human rights abuses had occurred before, during and after the 1999 referendum where the majority of people in the territory opted for independence. However, the investigation team does not have any authority to conduct prosecutions.

In a meeting with her Indonesian counterpart Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda on the sidelines of the annual ASEAN foreign ministerial meeting here, Rice offered to help both countries to follow up on the findings and recommendations of the Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF).

"She appreciates the completion of the findings by our Indonesia-Timor Leste CTF. The U.S. appreciates and supports it, and asked what the U.S. can do to help implement (the recommendations)," Minister Hassan told The Jakarta Post after a 25-minute meeting with Rice in her hotel suite.

The State Department allowed the Post to follow Hassan and his delegation into her suite and stay there for about one minute, but forbade reporters from asking any questions.

"I expressed our thanks and appreciation for the understanding and support that the U.S. has extended to us," said the minister about his response to Rice.

Many parties have praised the CTF for its findings and conclusions over the gross human rights abuses.

When asked about Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's criticism of Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand for being late to ratify the ASEAN Charter, the minister replied, "It is not criticism. My understanding is what Prime Minister Lee said about that, was that in a way, even without waiting for the charter to be fully ratified by all 10 members, (it will) enter into force."

Abdillah Toha, legislator from the National Mandate Party (PAN), on Wednesday slammed Lee's remarks.

"Lee forgets that the parliaments in these three countries are real parliaments and not the ones in Singapore or Myanmar, which follow whatever their governments wish without any reservation," Toha said.


Rice underlines need for Indonesian military reform

SINGAPORE, July 24 (AFP) -- US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday underlined the need for reform of Indonesia's military after a report blamed the country for gross human rights abuses in East Timor in 1999.

Rice said Washington would continue military-to-military contacts despite Indonesia's recent acceptance of a report saying it was responsible for abuses amounting to crimes against humanity during East Timor's independence vote.

She also said she was "content" with Indonesia's response to the report, even though Jakarta has rejected calls for criminal prosecutions and no Indonesian general has ever been punished for their role in the violence.

"The recommendations of the commission I am sure will be implemented and both governments will find a means to make certain that justice is done," she told reporters on the sidelines of a regional security forum here.

She was referring to the release of a long-awaited truth and friendship commission report earlier this month which said the Indonesian military was responsible for violence which killed some 1,400 people in East Timor in 1999.

The report, which named no perpetrators and made no recommendation for prosecutions, was jointly written by East Timorese and Indonesian officials and was immediately accepted by the governments of both countries.

It was the first time Indonesia has accepted responsibility for the 1999 violence in its former province, which it annexed in 1975. East Timor finally gained formal independence in 2002.

But both sides were quick to dismiss calls for an independent tribunal to try the perpetrators, saying it was time to move on for the sake of bilateral relations and regional stability.

Rice said she believed the US-Indonesian military-to-military contacts, which were suspended after the violence and resumed more than three years ago, were useful to promote reform of the Indonesian armed forces.

"This is a good democratic government that has a strong record of wanting to work and be responsive on human rights issues," she said of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration.

"We've known for a long time there are concerns about reform in the military, need for reform in the military. The United States has been active in helping and encouraging that agenda with Indonesia.

"We're going to continue to work closely with the Indonesian government, we will help in any way that we can."

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