Cohen Asia Trip Includes Strong Message to Indonesians
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 13, 2000 Defense Secretary William S. Cohen will take "a strong message to the leaders of Indonesia" as part of his nine-day trip to Asia.
Timorese militiamen killed three international aid workers -- one an American, Carlos Caceres-Collazo of Puerto Rico -- during an attack Sept. 6.
"Indonesia's failure to protect an American citizen and other international aid workers, and more general failure of the Indonesian army to provide security for the international relief operations, threatens to destroy the international goodwill toward Indonesia at a time when it needs it most," said a senior defense official.
During his time in Indonesia, Cohen will meet with President Abdurrahman Wahid, Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri and Defense Minister Mahfud Mahmudin.
Cohen will travel first to the Philippines and meet with President Joseph Estrada and Secretary of National Defense Orlando Mercado. The United States is seeking to "reinvigorate" U.S. security relationship with the Philippines, officials said.
He then moves on to Singapore to meet President Sellapan Rama Nathan and Senior Minister Kwan Yew Lee. Cohen may visit U.S. sailors and Marines during this stop.
Next, in Thailand, Cohen will meet with leaders to discuss mutual concerns, such as counternarcotics operations and demining, before flying to South Korea.
Cohen and Army Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will participate in the Defense Consultative Meeting and Military Consultative Meetings in Korea. In addition, the secretary will visit some of the 36,000 U.S. service members based in the country.
Cohen will conclude his trip with a stop in Japan. There he will continue discussions begun Sept. 12 in Washington with Minister of State for Defense Kazuo Torashima. He will also meet with Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Foreign Minister Yohei Kono.