|Subject: FT: US may offer arms to Indonesia
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 08:50:18 -0500
From: Tapol <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo
Financial Times March 5 1999
*US may offer arms to Indonesia
By Sander Thoenes in Jakarta
Madeleine Albright, US secretary of state, is expected today to offer a resumption of US military aid to Indonesia if the armed forces halt human rights abuses in East Timor and other parts of the archipelago, diplomats said.
The US embassy confirmed that Mrs Albright, who arrived last night, had requested a rather unusual one-hour interview with General Wiranto, commander of the armed forces, in addition to her meetings with President B.J. Habibie, the Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao and several opposition leaders. The timing and content of the talks were not revealed.
Mr Gusmao called on the US this week to cut off all training, weapons and ammunition sales to Indonesia and to push Gen Wiranto to withdraw military intelligence officers - whom he blames for setting up paramilitary groups - from East Timor. The paramilitary groups have clashed with pro-independence groups, sparking fears of civil war.
Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Mr Habibie's foreign policy adviser and de facto spokeswoman, said yesterday Indonesia would not agree to a referendum in East Timor on independence but could accept an indirect vote by an assembly of Timorese delegates.
"The president has been quite firm about the horrendous implications of a referendum," she told the Financial Times, dismissing reports that Mr Habibie had changed his mind. "It is not considered practical. The whole of [the military] would have to be withdrawn, peacekeeping troops would be needed, and international observers."
Instead, she added, Indonesia was considering proposals to allow East Timorese villages to send delegates to an assembly which could negotiate with Jakarta and then vote on the issue.
"A two-tiered election process may be one option, but we don't want to get ahead of the talks in New York," she added. Ms Anwar was referring to a meeting between diplomats from Indonesia and Portugal at the United Nations next week that may deliver a breakthrough agreement on a transition to autonomy or, more likely, independence.
Mr Habibie has sprung surprises on his staff before, however, saying in January that Indonesia would pull out of East Timor if his earlier offer of autonomy was rejected. His foreign minister and other officials had for months insisted only autonomy was an option.