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Secretary's Indonesian Talks Promote Regional Security

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Jan. 21, 1998 – The president of the second most populous nation in Southeast Asia said he shares the United States' commitment to regional peace in stability and strong bilateral relations.

Indonesian President Suharto shared his views and support during a Jan. 14 meeting with Defense Secretary William Cohen at the president's official residence. The meeting came during Cohen's 12-day, seven-nation tour of Southeast Asia. Besides Indonesia, Cohen's schedule included stops in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan and Korea.

Throughout the trip, Cohen has emphasized the purpose of his visit to the region is to promote U.S. security interests and ties to Asia. However, the ongoing financial crisis, felt particularly hard here, has overshadowed his visit. The secretary said the U.S. military presence provides the kind of stability that has made the area's huge economic growth possible.

"Our common security interests include peaceful resolution of disputes, open sea lanes and engagement with China," the secretary told reporters following his meeting with Suharto. "Indonesia's participation in the U.N. peacekeeping missions has made it a force for peace in the world. In addition, Indonesia plays a key role in maintaining regional stability. It is a leader in [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and is a fundamental force for peace and prosperity."

After joining Indonesian Defense Minister Edi Sudrajat for a press conference outside Suharto's residence, Cohen visited Ambassador J. Benedict Roy and his embassy staff. He later addressed the American Chamber of Commerce, reiterating his message of DoD's role in maintaining regional stability. He departed Jakarta Jan. 15 for an overnight visit to Singapore.

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