JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - The United States has said
it would accept the findings of a truth commission
probing killings by Indonesian troops during East
Timor's break from Jakarta - despite a boycott of
the process by the United Nations and criticism by
The joint Indonesian and East Timorese commission is
expected to present its final report to the
presidents of both countries within weeks. Its
members have worked for months to find an account
that is acceptable to both sides.
"If it's good enough for East Timor and Indonesia,
it should be good enough for us," Christopher Hill,
the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian
and Pacific affairs,
in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
Hill's comments to The Associated Press are the
strongest indication yet that the United States will
not allow the lack of justice over past rights
abuses to hurt its growing ties with Indonesia, a
large Muslim nation seen as a counterbalance to
China's growing clout in Asia.
"What we want to see is reconciliation between
Indonesia and East Timor," he said. "This is the way
to go. If you look at East Timor's future, it needs
a good relationship with Indonesia."
Hill, who met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, is due to travel to East Timor on Sunday.
The Commission of Truth and Friendship was set up in
2005 to head off demands for a U.N-backed
international tribunal to try those responsible for
the violence during the 1999 independence ballot.
At least 1,000 people were killed by vengeful
Indonesian troops following East Timor's
overwhelming vote for independence after 24 years of
often brutal rule, according to a previous U.N.
inquiry and scores of witnesses.
Amid intense international pressure, Indonesia put
18 military officers on trial for the violence, but
all were found not guilty or acquitted on appeal.
East Timor leaders - who are battling massive
poverty, social unrest and rebel soldiers who last
month almost killed the president - have not pressed
for more trials or an international tribunal out of
fear of upsetting their giant neighbor.
The commission has heard testimony from military
officers and victims, but has no power to prosecute
individuals or order anyone to testify. It could
also recommend amnesties to people found guilty of
The United Nations said last year it was boycotting
the commission because of the amnesty provision.
East Timorese and international rights advocates
have dismissed it as a facade designed to ease
international pressure for a U.N.-sponsored