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Wednesday, May 20, 1998 Published at 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK

G8 leaders call for change in Indonesia

Relatives of the victims of Thursday's fires were searching the remains in Jakarta morgue

The leaders of the world's major industrial nations, meeting in Birmingham, have urged the Indonesian authorities to carry out political as well as economic reforms.

Bill Clinton: Genuine dialogue between the government and society required (0'13")
The eight leaders, including the US President, Bill Clinton, and Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, called on Indonesia to open up a dialogue to address the aspirations of the people.

They agreed a declaration deploring the killings and urged the authorities to refrain from the use of lethal force and to respect individual rights.

The eight, under Prime Minister Tony Blair's chairmanship, say it is essential to avoid an escalation of violence and that political as well as economic reform is necessary in Indonesia.

US: serious situation

Student leader: "You can't change the system without changing the leader" (0'25")
Earlier, the United States urged the government in Indonesia to make political reforms - a US State Department spokesman said the authorities should seize any lull in the rioting to launch a new dialogue with the people.

[ image: Ten thousand soldiers were patrolling the streets of Jakarta on Friday]
Ten thousand soldiers were patrolling the streets of Jakarta on Friday
Doing so, he said, could wrench Indonesia back from the brink on economic and political collapse.

"We're in a serious situation. We urge the leaders to show max restraint in dealing with street demonstrations," said State Department spokesman James Rubin.

Jakarta havoc

About 500 people are reported to have been killed in riots in the capital Jakarta this week.

[ image:  ]
The Indonesian military are taking further steps to try to restore order in. In a statement they said they have arrested more than 1,000 rioters and looters.

The city remains calm but tanks are reported to be guarding embassies and diplomatic compounds, and thousands of soldiers remain on the streets of the capital, some using loudspeakers to encourage people to resume normal life.

Private television stations are said to be under orders not to show any pictures of protests or rallies.

The riots have left a trail of havoc over huge areas of the city. The streets are littered with burnt out shops and cars.

Piles of bodies have been pulled from the charred remains of three shopping centres, looters apparently trapped when others in the crowd set the buildings alight.

Serious disturbances have also taken place in other cities around Indonesia.

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