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Rumsfeld Urges Renewed Ties With Indonesia

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2002 – It is time for the U.S. military to engage with its Indonesian counterpart, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said May 13.

Rumsfeld met with Indonesian Defense Minister Matori Abdul Dajalil at the Pentagon and held a short press conference after the meeting. He said the two discussed the problems of terrorism in the world and the work that Indonesia is doing to deal with the problem. "We also had a good discussion on the relationship between our two countries," Rumsfeld said.

The secretary said the Bush administration is working with Congress to re-establish military-to-military ties between the nations. "We're hopeful we might find support in the Congress to move in the correct direction," Rumsfeld said. Military-to-military ties between the United States and Indonesia ended over concern about human rights abuses on the island of East Timor.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world, and it is struggling to maintain its secular democratic government. The nation is made up of thousands of islands with many different ethnic groups. Defense Minister Matori said the nation is determined to build a professional military under civilian control. The nation is also dealing with past human rights abuses, he said.

"Our military-to-military relations still suffer from the military embargo toward Indonesia, and I am here to rectify that situation," Matori said through an interpreter. "I'm here to normalize the relationship between our two countries."

Matori told Rumsfeld Indonesia is concerned about terrorism and will work with the world community on the problem.

This is the second meeting between U.S. and Indonesian military officials recently. In April, U.S. Pacific Command officials met with members of the Indonesian military in Djakarta to discuss military-to-military relations and the steps needed to re-establish them.

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