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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS -
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U.S. to Resume Training of Some in Indonesia Military

Posted in the database on Sunday, February 27th, 2005 @ 01:04:30 MST (2260 views)
from AFP  

Untitled Document WASHINGTON, Feb 26 - The United States, eager to build up its alliances in Southeast Asia, has decided to resume training members of the Indonesian armed forces suspended since 1992, the State Department announced Saturday.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has determined that Indonesia has satisfied legislative conditions for restarting its full International Military Education and Training program," the State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said in a statement.

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

The sanctions were further tightened in 1999, after the Indonesian Army was accused of killing about 1,500 people in East Timor in an unsuccessful bid to prevent the territory from gaining independence.

The ban was effectively written into law by Congress in 2002, when lawmakers charged that generals in Jakarta were blocking an investigation into the killing of two school teachers in Papua Province.

But Indonesian officials have since taken steps to improve cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and brought murder and illegal firearms charges against Anthonius Wamang, a member of a Papuan separatist group, American officials say.

Moreover, the administration of President George W. Bush has repeatedly emphasized the importance of broadening post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism cooperation with Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Mr. Boucher said Ms. Rice had concluded that the Indonesians were determined to continue their cooperation with the F.B.I. in the case of the slain Americans "and thus have fulfilled the requirements articulated in the legislation to allow for resumption" of the training program.

"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," the spokesman said.

There was no immediate word on where Indonesian military personnel will be trained and what kind of courses will be offered to them.

But the decision caps a quiet lobbying campaign by top Pentagon officials led by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, who has openly advocated the view that Congressional restrictions on military-to-military contacts with countries like Indonesia and Pakistan were hurting American interests more than helping them.

Mr. Wolfowitz has cited the case of newly elected Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whom he described as "a democratic reformer" and one of the last military officers trained in the United States.