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Friday, September 10, 1999 Published at 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK

UK Politics

Hawk reports 'dismay' Foreign Office

The UK has sold more than 40 Hawk jets to Indonesia

The Foreign Office has promised to start an urgent investigation to determine the truth behind reports of UK-built Hawk jets being flown over East Timor.

East Timor
Indonesia had assured the UK Government the aircraft would not be used in the province, which has descended into anarchy after voting for independence.

But a report in the Financial Times says Indonesian television showed pictures of three Hawks on the tarmac of the airport in Kupang, the capital of neighbouring West Timor.

[ image: Violence is continuing in East Timor]
Violence is continuing in East Timor
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "This is completely unacceptable.

"We are alarmed and dismayed by the reports. Our ambassador in Jakarta has made immediate representations to the Indonesian government."

Indonesia owns more than 40 British-made Hawk jets and is awaiting delivery of a further 16 ordered during the previous Conservative government.

The Foreign Office spokesman said the UK could not do anything to prevent the use of planes already in Indonesia.

"We cannot turn back the clock and prevent the use of planes licensed by the last administration," he said.

"The main problem is the Indonesian military who are not following government policy."

[ image: Robin Cook: Considering ending military ties]
Robin Cook: Considering ending military ties
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, speaking during a stopover in Los Angeles, said the United Kingdom was considering severing all its military ties with Indonesia.

This was a possible response to Indonesia's refusal to allow United Nations peacekeepers to enter East Timor to try to quell the violence by militias opposed to independence.

Britain's UN ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock said that a UN mission to Jakarta appeared to have had only "a slight effect" on the Indonesian Government.

The mission agreed it would visit the East Timorese capital Dili on Saturday, Sir Jeremy said, but the apparent invasion of the UN compound in the city could prevent this from taking place.

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