US to train Indonesian forces again

The United States is to resume a training programme for the Indonesian armed forces discontinued since 1992, with an eye on rebuilding its Southeast Asia alliances.

Washington says the training will improve bilateral ties
Washington says the training will improve bilateral ties

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Saturday said “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has determined that Indonesia has satisfied legislative conditions for restarting its full International Military Education and Training Programme.”

Indonesia’s participation in the programme has been essentially on hold since 1992, when the Indonesian military launched a crackdown against pro-independence protesters in East Timor.

The ban was effectively written into law by the US Congress in 2002, when US lawmakers insisted that generals in Jakarta were blocking an investigation into the killing of two US school teachers in Indonesia’s Papua province.

Improving record

But Indonesian authorities have since taken steps to improve cooperation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and brought murder and illegal firearms charges against a member of a Papuan separatist group.

Moreover, the administration of President George Bush has repeatedly stressed the importance of broadening post-September 11 counter-terrorism cooperation with Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation.

Boucher said Rice had concluded the Indonesian government and its military were determined to continue their cooperation with the FBI in the case of the murdered Americans “and thus have fulfilled the requirements articulated in the legislation to allow for resumption of the training programme.”

“The department expects that Indonesia’s resumption of full international military education and training will strengthen its ongoing democratic progress and advance cooperation in other areas of mutual concern,” Boucher added.

The decision to resume training caps a quiet lobbying campaign by top Pentagon officials led by Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who has openly advocated the view that congressional restrictions on military-to-military contacts with countries like Indonesia and Pakistan were hurting US interests more than helping them.

Source : News Agencies

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