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Saturday, November 13, 2004

 

Beijing and Jakarta talk on 'rejuvinating weaponry'

As the Peoples Republic of China ramps up its courting of Indonesia, Jakarta strategists are encouraging new president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to accommodate the demands of the United States so that American military assistance can be resumed.

The USA imposed military equipment bans on the PRC following its massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, Beijing in 1989 and also on Indonesia following widespread allegations that gross human rights abuses took place when East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999.

Bara Hasibuan, a former congressional fellow and the National Mandate Party's director of international relations, said that for the sake of his global campaign against terror, President Bush will persuade the US. Congress to lift its embargo on the Indonesian military. "But the Indonesian government must be proactive in reaching out for it and leave its passive approach behind," he added.

"The Bush administration considers Southeast Asia as a breeding ground for terrorism and Indonesia will continue to be its partner in fighting terrorism," he said, quoted by the Jakarta Post.

The newspaper reported scepticism that approaches from Indonesia will bear fruit as the Indonesian military “has steadfastly refused to acknowledge its poor human rights record”.

Meantime, visiting Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan said he had met with President Yudhoyono, discussing broad bilateral issues including defence cooperation. "We held talks on defence cooperation and we have agreed to increase cooperation and consultation on security," AFP reported.

Separately, Foreign Minister Wirayuda said Jakarta hoped from the talks China could "provide ways to help (us) rejuvenate our weaponry."

President Hu Jintao's also extended an invitation for Yudhoyono to visit China, Tang said, adding that the two leaders could possibly hold separate bilateral talks at the 22 November ASEAN summit in Laos.

Last week, delegates to a meeting of Asia's biggest security grouping called for closer military cooperation amid concern about terrorism and North Korea's nuclear program. The three-day meeting in Beijing brought together the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the USA, PRC, Japan, India, Russia, the two Koreas, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand.

Delegates plan to take up "the role of the armed forces in coming days in combating regional threats," the Peoples Republic of China envoy, Gen Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army, as reported by AP.

"It is our common mission to maintain regional peace and stability, to strengthen trust among militaries and promote cooperation among countries and capabilities to properly meet the challenges and changes," he said.

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