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Monday, 18 September, 2000, 00:27 GMT 01:27 UK
Cohen warning over West Timor militias
militiamen on a lorry
The UN has called for the disbanding of the militias
US Defence Secretary William Cohen has warned that Indonesia must disarm and disband the militias that killed three UN workers in East Timor or risk international isolation.

Mr Cohen, who is due to meet Indonesian leaders on Monday, was speaking shortly before he arrived in Jakarta as part of an Asian regional tour.

The government will have to decide in terms of what the consequences will be: co-operation or isolation

US Defence Secretary William Cohen
He told reporters there that the United States wanted good relations with Jakarta, and wanted to see it "emerge as a united, strong democratic and prosperous country".

But he suggested that the government would have to reflect on the consequences, "co-operation or isolation", as it decided whether to comply with the UN resolution demanding the militias' disbandment.

'No arrests yet'

A senior US official noted that, 11 days after the murder of the three UN aid workers, "nobody has been arrested yet," although the Indonesian Government had given full security guarantees for the safety of UN staff.

UNHCR office
The UNHCR office in Atambua was attacked by rampaging militiamen
Earlier in Singapore, Mr Cohen said he had seen no evidence that the people of East Timor wanted their territory to become part of Indonesia again.

"What I think the people of East Timor want is security and stability and an opportunity for self-governance," he said.

The US defence secretary was responding to remarks by the Indonesian defence minister, Mahfud.

The minister said on Saturday Indonesian intelligence indicated that the East Timorese had begun to tire of conditions under United Nations control, and wanted to reintegrate with Indonesia.

'Foreign agents'

Mr Mahfud said the UN was doing a poor job of running the former Portuguese colony.

The minister repeated accusations by other senior Indonesian officials that foreign agents were behind recent violence in Indonesian West Timor in which pro-Jakarta militias killed three UN aid workers.

The United Nations, which is administering East Timor during its transition to independence, has warned that the militias' aim is to destabilise the territory in the hope that the resulting chaos could spark calls for the return of Indonesian rule.

During his visit Mr Cohen is to hold talks with Mr Mahfud and Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid.

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See also:

15 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timor refugees deal signed
12 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia snubs UN mission
08 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
'20 dead' in Timor clashes
11 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia pledges to disarm militias
09 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timor refugees face starvation
06 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Danger of the Timor mission
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor marks year of freedom
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