|Subject: Britain suspends sale of Hawk jets to
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 16:34:20 EDT
Britain suspends sale of Hawk jets to Indonesia
LONDON, Sept 11 (AFP) - Britain is suspending the sale of Hawk aircraft to Indonesia because of its "horror and disgust" at the bloodshed in East Timor, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook announced Saturday,
The announcement followed concerns by the British government about reports that Indonesia was flying the British-made fighters over East Timor, contrary to its assurances to London that it would not.
It also came after disclosures that another shipment of nine ground-attack Hawk jets was bound for Indonesia, having been granted export licenses by the former ruling Conservative party.
Cook said no more of the ground attack jets would be sold and the existing contracts would be suspended.
He said: "Britain will support an EU arms embargo and take national action to suspend further arms exports."
London has been under heavy pressure to follow the United States' suspension of military sales to Jakarta because of the carnage in East Timor following the territory's August 30 landslide vote for independence.
Cook, speaking to reporters, said: "We have taken this action to make sure that we bring home to the Indonesian government and particularly its army the horror and the disgust of the international community at what's being done in East Timor."
He insisted that the Labour government, which took office in May 1997, was following its much-vaunted ethical foreign policy.
"Nobody has ever found any military equipment licensed by this government that has turned up in East Timor, nor will they," he added.
"Partly as a result of those tight guidelines, arms exports to Indonesia have collapsed."
Cook said arms exports to Jakarta had been worth 450 million pounds (720 million dollars) in the last year of the Tory government, but only one million pounds' worth of new contracts had been signed last year.
The foreign secretary said he had just spoken with Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was part of a UN delegation that visited the troubled territory.
Greenstock had been "shocked" by what he saw there. "He told me that Dili had been burned down, and tens of thousands of refugees are facing starvation in the mountains," Cook said.
Cook said Britain was prepared to make its contribution to an international peacekeeping force if Indonesia allowed one to go in.
"In the meantime, it is right that we should bring home to the Indonesian army the horror of the whole world at the brutality they have visited on East Timor."
He said the anti-independence militias "cannot forever stifle the cry for freedom in East Timor. The people of East Timor are going to be free, and the sooner both the government and the army of Indonesia accept that, the less will be the damage to Indonesia."