Tue, 02 Aug 1994

U.S. military training still open to Indonesia

JAKARTA (JP): Although Indonesia no longer receives U.S. aid to train its military officers, American education facilities are still available to members of the Indonesian Armed Forces, a senior official of the U.S. State Department said yesterday.

The Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Winston Lord, told reporters yesterday that Indonesia could still purchase the International Military and Education Training (IMET) programs.

Lord suggested that both nations would benefit if Indonesia continued to send its officers to train in the United States.

These programs are not only for those who are interested in having ties with Indonesia in general but also for those who are for "an open society, a moderate military and promoting human rights", he said.

Lord was speaking at the U.S. embassy after spending the day meeting with Indonesian officials, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas, Coordinating Minister for Industry and Trade Hartarto and Minister of Trade Satrio B. Joedono.

The U.S. government suspended all aid under the IMET programs to Indonesia, worth an estimated $2 million a year, as a protest over the way the Indonesian Armed Forces handled a demonstration in Dili, East Timor, in 1992.

Since then, Indonesia has switched to Australian training facilities.

In another development, the U.S. Senate last month approved a bill calling for a ban on sales of light arms to Indonesia until "significant progress was made in East Timor".

The decision, however, still has to pass through a House- Senate conference committee where it will be resolved in accordance to a similar bill which was passed earlier in May by the House of Representatives.

Lord said the U.S. government has worked hard with the Congress towards what it considers the "most constructive approach" to the issue.

East Timor

"We do share the same concerns (with the Congress) on human rights issues and the East Timor issue ... but we are also working to make clear that we didn't think the approach that was being debated was the best way to go about this," he said.

He added that he expected the result of the debates to be a final outcome "which I think all of us can live with".

Lord, who met with members of the National Commission on Human Rights and editors of the Suara Timor Timur daily, pointed out that the East Timor issue was important for both Indonesia and the U.S. and was discussed in the context of an over-all relationship.

He said the "positive elements" of the two countries, such as growing investment ties and good military access made it easier for both countries to discuss "as friends and as two great countries" whatever differences the two had.

"We have continually raised the East Timor situation with our Indonesian friends ... and hope there will be improvement and reasonable progress in the situation," he said.

Commenting on U.S. foreign policy, which is considered by many observers as giving the impression of uncertainty since Bill Clinton's presidency, Lord said the U.S. simply believes that every country must follow its own cultural and historical paths and seek its own destiny.

"We're not going to pursue these issues with any sense of arrogance or that people have to be like Americans, but we will discuss universal principles," he said.

He added that these fundamentals included the belief that open societies would mean better and faster development in the present era and that open societies would make better neighbors as they did not tend to produce terrorism, refugees or wage war on each other. (pwn)