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Progress of U.S.-Indonesian Relations Encourages Pace

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Feb. 13, 2007 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he came out of meetings with Indonesian leaders today encouraged by the military-to-military progress the two countries are making.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace arrived here this morning from Australia as part of a week-long trip to the region.

“I came to discuss how our two countries can cooperate and serve both our countries better, and how we might be better partners in the future,” Pace said during a news conference following his meetings.

The chairman met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono and Air Chief Marshal Djoko Suyanto, the commander in chief of the National Defense Forces. His meeting with Yudhoyono was supposed to have lasted 30 minutes; it stretched to an hour.

The president and chairman discussed a full range of items, including more Indonesian officers and noncommissioned officers attending U.S. professional military education programs. They also discussed Iraq, regional issues and joint training opportunities, as well as Indonesia’s contribution to the peace process in the Middle East. Indonesia has 800 soldiers in Lebanon under U.N. mandate, “helping that country and region find its way to peace,” Pace said.

Pace said military training was a point in all his meetings in the Indonesian capital. He said the United States would like more Indonesian officers to attend U.S. military schools. “The more international students in school, the broader the dialogue and the better the experience (for all),” he said.

The military leaders also spoke of the possibility of some U.S. servicemembers coming to Indonesia to participate in training.

“All this builds the trust and confidence between the nations and helps both understand how each other operates,” he said.

The International Military Training and Education budget for Indonesian officers was about $1 million for fiscal 2007 and is expected to rise next year, defense officials said.

Pace also discussed Iraq with Indonesian leaders. He said that if the coalition left Iraq before the government could stand on it own two feet, the consequences could be a disaster. He said such a pull-out “could very well encourage terrorists around the world.”

He said this is not a direct linkage, “but clearly any time that free nations stand together and assist others that are trying to be free, that works against terrorists worldwide, and any time we step back from the obligation works to the benefit of terrorists.”

Pace expressed his satisfaction with the U.S.-Indonesian relationship. “I’m very comfortable with the relationship that exists right now between Indonesia and the United States and especially with the relationship between the U.S. armed forces and the Indonesian military,” he said.

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Gen. Peter Pace, USMC

Related Sites:
State Department Background Note on Indonesia

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