Fri, 21 Mar 2003

'TNI still welcomes Freeport aid'

JAKARTA: The Indonesian Military (TNI) would not ask U.S. gold and copper mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia to provide financial contributions to its soldiers.

"It's up to Freeport (whether to continue giving the assistance or not); but we would welcome the good will from Freeport," TNI Chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto told reporters after a ceremony in the Navy's marine squad on Thursday.

He said the military would continue to protect Freeport interests with or without their financial assistance because "it is considered a vital asset".

Endriartono admitted that the military and Freeport had signed an agreement over food and allowances for soldiers who guarded Freeport's 2,800-square-kilometer site.

Freeport confirmed that it had paid TNI and police security contributions totaling US$5.6 million last year. -- JP