Tue, 02 Aug 1994

Indonesia considers assisting Rwandans

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia is exploring the possibility of providing humanitarian assistance to the civil-war torn Rwanda, President Soeharto was quoted as saying yesterday.

The President discussed all the hardship that the Rwandan people are facing and would see what Indonesia could do to help them, visiting Kenyan Vice President George Saitoti told journalists after meeting with Soeharto.

Saitoti, who is also minister for planning and development, said the Rwandan tragedy was discussed during the meeting in which he handed a letter from the Kenyan president to Soeharto.

An estimated half million Rwandans, mostly innocent civilians, have been killed over the past few months of civil strife involving Tutsi and Hutu ethnics. Tens of thousands of refugees are reported to be starving and plagued with cholera.

Saitoti is here to attend a meeting on population in the Third World countries.

He said the letter from the Kenyan president contained a number of suggestions to follow-up on the meeting of the two presidents in 1992 during the Non- Aligned Summit in Jakarta.

On Saturday, Saitoti met with Minister/Chairman of the National Development Planning Board Ginandjar Kartasasmita, during which the guest requested that Jakarta allow three Kenyan officials to pursue comparative studies at the board.

Indonesian State Minister for Population/Chairman of the Family Planning Coordinating Agency Haryono Suyono, who accompanied Saitoti, said Kenya wished to buy gas, palm oil and rubber from Indonesia. (pan)