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US Defence Secretary in Indonesia to discuss military cooperation

International Desk |
Update: 2010-07-21 16:10:28
US Defence Secretary in Indonesia to discuss military cooperation

JAKARTA - US Defence Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Jakarta Thursday to discuss the possible resumption of military ties with Indonesian special forces.

Gates, who arrived from a visit to Seoul, was due to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro later Thursday.

The US defence chief was expected to discuss the possibility of resuming training for an elite Indonesian military unit as part of growing counter-insurgency and intelligence cooperation with Jakarta.

But the move would be controversial as the Kopassus unit has been implicated in human rights abuses, including in East Timor, and some players in US Congress have opposed embracing the force before it has accounted for its past.

The United States broke off ties with the Kopassus in 1998 under a law banning cooperation with foreign troops implicated in rights abuses.

The Indonesian special forces are accused of committing abuses in East Timor and Aceh under then dictator Suharto in the 1990s.

The administration of President Barack Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, sees the country as an increasingly important player in East Asia and key ally in the Muslim world.

BDST: 1233 HRS, July 22, 2010

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