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Friday, September 10, 1999 Published at 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK


World: Asia-Pacific

Military sanctions against Indonesia

Indonesian soldiers drive through Dili

By Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus

East Timor
The United States has suspended military ties between its own armed forces and the Indonesian military in the wake of the chaos in East Timor.

The US believes that it is firmly within the power of the Indonesian armed forces to halt the violence in the territory.


[ image: Australia is pulling out of a joint training excercise]
Australia is pulling out of a joint training excercise
Explaining the decision, a Pentagon spokesman said it was inappropriate to continue a military-to-military relationship with an institution that was not doing enough to contain the violence in East Timor.

It is hard to see what impact the move will have - most joint exercises had been shelved anyway - and the suspension will largely mean that there will be no planning for future joint manoeuvres and liaison officers will be withdrawn.

It is unclear if any Indonesian officers training in the US will be sent home.

Australia halts training

Following Washington's lead, the Australian government has just announced that some of its planned exercises with the Indonesian military will not now take place.


[ image: An Indonesian soldier in East Timor patrols with anti-independence militias]
An Indonesian soldier in East Timor patrols with anti-independence militias
But again there is no suggestion as yet that Indonesian personnel training in Australia will be sent home.

The Australian Government is in a difficult position. Of all outside countries, its military probably has the closest links with the Indonesian armed forces, though these are not extensive.

But given that Australia hopes to play the leading role in any United Nations intervention force - should one be deployed - it can hardly suspend ties with the very army with which it might have to work closely on the ground.

There are less than half a dozen Indonesian officers in Britain undergoing training; most of them at civilian universities.

There is continuing unease in some quarters in Britain about arms sales to Indonesia.

An Indonesian delegation was to have come to an arms sales exhibition outside London next week.

But they are now not coming, and the British authorities have heaved a sigh of relief since they now no longer have to consider a formal withdrawal of the invitation.



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