“The assurances they (TNI) gave us are reliable,” visiting Foreign Minister Ben Bradshaw said at a media briefing held at the British Council to wind up his three-day visit.
Britain, traditionally a major supplier of military hardware to Indonesia, was in the middle of delivering several of its Hawk jets when the European Union imposed an arms embargo in September 1999 in protest against Jakarta’s handling of East Timor.
The embargo was lifted in January 2000, allowing Britain to complete the delivery of the remaining six Hawk fighters.
Plans for new arms sales to Indonesia have since come under close scrutiny from international non-governmental organizations. While East Timor has become an independent state, Indonesia continues to face insurgency in Aceh and Irian Jaya.
In lifting the embargo, the European Union sets strict terms for future arms sales to Indonesia from its members, including a guarantee that the weapons would not be used for either external aggression or internal repression.
Bradshaw said that although Britain would resume arms exports to Indonesia, his government would keep a close watch on their use by TNI, and cautioned that any violation of the pledge would seriously hurt bilateral relations.
Britain would also push for closer military ties with Indonesia, and would assist with the quest to turn TNI into a professional and accountable force, he said.
From Indonesia, Bradshaw is scheduled to proceed to East Timor, which is holding a general election on Thursday. During his three-day stay here, he met with Vice President Hamzah Haz, Minister of Defense Matori Abdul Djalil and Attorney General MA Rachman, among others.
During these meetings, Bradshaw said he discussed the role that British companies could play in the Indonesian economy.
He underlined Britain’s commitment to assist Indonesia in education, pointing out the increasing number of Indonesians receiving the British Chevening Scholarships each year. Some 2,000 Indonesians study in Britain at any one time, he said.
Meanwhile, the United States Embassy in Jakarta announced the visit of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, James A. Kelly, to Indonesia and East Timor, beginning on Tuesday.
Kelly, who will observe Thursday’s election in East Timor, hoped to meet with Indonesian leaders to express U.S. support for Indonesia’s democratic transition, the embassy said. (07)
30 TAPOL on British arms exports Comment on the above
news item added Aug 30
"A Jakarta Post article dated 29 August, posted on this list yesterday, suggested that Britain was about to resume arms exports to Indonesia. In fact, Britain has been selling military equipment to Indonesia since the European Union arms embargo was lifted in January 2000 ... the fact that Ben Bradshaw, the British Minister, is pushing for closer military ties and says he is prepared to accept TNI assurances that British equipment will not be used for internal repression, despite its past record and its current behaviour in Aceh, West Papua etc., is alarming and must be challenged." TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign
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