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Rumsfeld Media Availability with Indonesian Minister of Defense

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
May 13, 2002 11:30 AM EDT

(Media availability with Indonesian Minister of Defense Matori Abdul Dajalil)

Rumsfeld: Good morning. The minister of defense of Indonesia has been in the country. We just had a very good discussion about the problem of terrorism in the world and the work that Indonesia is doing in its country to deal with the problem.

We also had a good discussion about the relationship between our two countries. The president and the secretary of State and I have all been interested in finding ways to work with the Congress to reestablish the kind of military-to-military relationships, which we believe, are appropriate. We are hopeful that we will be able to find support in the Congress to move in the correct direction. Last month, the United States and Indonesia had some security cooperative talks, which were useful and helpful.

So I'm happy to welcome the minister and turn the microphone over to him and let him make a few remarks, and then we'd be happy to respond to questions.

(Note: The minister's remarks are through interpreter.)

Matori: Good morning, members of the press. As Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said, that I am here to explain and -- develop relations between Indonesia and the United States, and to explain about events in Indonesia.

Indonesia and the United States have a common platform, especially on issues such as democracy, and also on issues such as terrorism.

I gave some explanations to the secretary about the reforms that have been undertaken by the Indonesian government, and to highlight the fact that the principle of civilian supremacy over the military is in place in Indonesia now. And these commitments are not just on the part of the government, but also on the part of the Indonesian military. And as a matter of fact, we are now preparing a series of laws to strengthen military reform in Indonesia.

I also touched on the issue of accountability on human rights violations, especially in East Timor, and I explained to the secretary that an ad hoc tribunal is now in place in Indonesia where trials are being held against those who perpetrated human rights violations in East Timor in 1999. As a democracy, like in the United States, the government cannot interfere in the legal proceedings, but the government continues to encourage the court to have a fair trial.

I also reaffirm our commitment in the fight against terrorism, which was promised by President Megawati Sukarnoputri when she visited Washington last year. And in order to have a strong legal foundation for our measures, we are preparing a draft law on antiterrorism, which will be submitted, to the Indonesian Parliament.

I also touched on many other issues, such as the issue of Aceh, where I stressed the commitment of the government to have a dialogue to settle the conflict.

I will proceed to answer your questions, but I would like to reiterate that I hope that my visit here will contribute to strengthening Indonesia-U.S. relations, and especially towards the normalization of military-to-military relations between the two countries.

Thank you very much.

Rumsfeld: Thank you, sir.

We'll be happy to respond to some questions. Yes?

Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, this is on the agreement with Russia on the nuclear weapons cuts. What is the number of weapons that the United States will be permitted to store rather than dismantle? And because storing has been allowed in this new agreement, in what sense is this really a cut in nuclear?

Rumsfeld: Well, I'll be very brief. The deep reductions, which are described in the treaty, take both sides down to in the neighborhood of 1,700 to 2,200. The treaty does not address the numbers of warheads that conceivably would be appropriate for either side for replacement warheads, to deal with technical issues that conceivably could occur. And that is the treaty does not address that, as it should not be, in my view. And I'm sure that when the treaty is released -- I don't know if it has been yet -- that will be clear.

Do we have a question for the minister?

Q: Yes, I do.

Rumsfeld: Good.

Q: Mr. Minister, can you tell us, sir, in which form did you ask the secretary of -- Secretary Rumsfeld to fight terrorism in Indonesia? And also, comments on President Clinton's trip to East Timor.

Matori: As I told you earlier, we are determined to bring -- to build a professional military in Indonesia. Our military-to-military relations still suffer from the military embargo towards Indonesia, and I am here to rectify that situation. This is why I'm here, to try to present a case to normalize military-to-military relations between our two countries, and I'm glad that the U.S. administration is undertaking discussions with the U.S. Congress to try to deal with this situation.

Q: If I may follow, sir, I mean did you invite, sir, the U.S. military in Indonesia to fight terrorism?

Matori: The answer is no, because that is not our foreign policy and we remain confident in the ability of our national police and the military to deal with these efforts.

Rumsfeld: I would add only that the steps that the Indonesian government has taken, and that the minister has been discussing here, we are hopeful will be helpful with the United States Congress, given the fact that it was human rights violations, of course, that led to the restrictions. And we are of the view that it's time for them to adjust it substantially.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you still have -- the House Appropriations Committee last week dealt you somewhat of a blow when it rejected two of the proposals to give Indonesia aid, citing a lack of perceived progress in fixing the abuses that happened three years ago -- for example, no Indonesian military officer's been convicted of any crime or reprimand. What's your strongest argument to the Hill you'll be making in the next week or two to show progress?

Rumsfeld: Well, the argument that will be made to the Hill is that Indonesia is an important country. It is a large country. It is a moderate Muslim state -- that they are addressing the human- rights issues in an orderly, democratic way and that the way the legal system works is not something, as the minister indicated, that governments intervene in.

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you believe there needs to be more cooperation from the Pakistani government in pursuit of al Qaeda and Taliban in western Pakistan? And why hasn't the Pakistani military been more aggressive in the pursuit of Taliban and al Qaeda?

Rumsfeld: Well, as I have said repeatedly here, we have been very pleased with the cooperation that President Musharraf has provided the United States with respect to the war on terrorism in many, many facets and respects, almost from day one. The question as to why they don't do additional things is, I think, self-evident -- the answer is self-evident. They're a sovereign nation. They have tribal areas that they have respected historically at the federal level. They are currently working out ways that they can deal with the tribal organizations so that, in fact, the al Qaeda or Taliban can be routed out.

Our interaction is continuous, it is iterative, and it has been constructive and helpful.

Q: Are there huge pockets of Taliban and al Qaeda just across the border in Pakistan?

Rumsfeld: I don't doubt for a minute that there are pockets of Taliban and al Qaeda across most of the borders of Afghanistan.

Q: Mr. Secretary, Operation Snipe has ended. Could you summarize the significance of that? And also, what does that mean for the continuing U.S. military effort?

Rumsfeld: Operation Snipe was one additional sweep that took place. There are others that are going on and will be going on prospectively. And it was helpful. We appreciate the work that the coalition did. And we -- I think it can be said that non-trivial caches of weapons have been discovered in recent days. And in addition, yesterday there were some al Qaeda or Taliban taken prisoner -- taken -- they were captured, as well as a number of caches of weapons.

So the progress is continuing. It is not something that's going to end. It is going to have to keep on if we're going to be successful.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Rumsfeld: I think we've -- we'll make this the last question.

Q: The Washington Times today reported that there is intelligence that there will be an attack on nuclear power plants in the United States on July 4th. How much credibility do you place in this, or is it from a less reliable source?

Rumsfeld: I don't discuss intelligence to confirm it or to deny it, either one.

Thank you very much, folks.

Mr. Minister, thank you.

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