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Thursday, September 9, 1999 Published at 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK

World: Americas

US military cuts Indonesian ties

The Pentagon's move is more symbolic than practical

By Washington Correspondent,Stephen Sackur

The United States has cut all military ties with Indonesia as a result of the failure of Jakarta to curb the violence in East Timor.

East Timor
US officials said it was more than a gesture, but the suspension of military links is likely to have more symbolic than practical effect.

It means no more joint training exercises and no more officer exchanges - but mostly, it's a sign that the US blames the Indonesian military directly for the violence and chaos that has gripped East Timor.

Military action unlikely

The question remains of what the US is prepared to do to pressure the Indonesian Government to change course.

[ image: General Shelton: No US troops will be fighting]
General Shelton: No US troops will be fighting
America's most senior military officer, General Henry Shelton, acknowledged to Congressmen that the US had no vital national security interest in the East Timor crisis.

He made it plain that he didn't expect US troops to be sent to the territory under any circumstances.

So the Americans are left to sound warnings about dire economic and political consequences for Jakarta if the violence continues.

And in a sign that Washington has little faith left in any assurances given by the Indonesians, Under-Secretary of State Thomas Pickering told a Congressional committee that the time had now clearly come for the government of Indonesia to invite international assistance to restore peace in East Timor.

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