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Monday, September 20, 1999 Published at 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK


UK: Wales

Welsh MP's concern over Indonesia arms deals

Row over Hawk fighters delivered to Indonesia

A Welsh MP is pressing the Government to release detailed information about arms deals with Indonesia.

Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd has accused Pontypridd MP Kim Howells of holding back information about multi-million pound contracts for armoured vehicles she claims have been used on the streets of East Timor.


[ image: Ann Clwyd MP demands information on armoured vehicle contracts]
Ann Clwyd MP demands information on armoured vehicle contracts
A year ago, Ms Clwyd demanded that the Department of Trade and Industry release details of the contracts but she said Pontypridd MP Kim Howells refused to do so on grounds of commercial confidentiality.

The new dispute concerns the delivery to Indonesia of Saracen and Saladin armoured vehicles made by Alvis.

Human Rights campaigners have alleged that the vehicles were used to quell rioters in Jakarta in 1996 and more recently used on the streets of East Timor.


[ image: MP for Pontypridd Kim Howells]
MP for Pontypridd Kim Howells
Ms Clwyd, who visited East Timor earlier this month, said the information was available in defence journals and reports.

Meanwhile, it has been disclosed that Mr Howells lost his papers on Indonesia when a sealed mailbag disappeared last week on route between his Pontypridd constituency and Westminster.

There is still no sign of the mail despite a search being ordered by the Royal Mail and the government.

The row came after Trade Secretary Stephen Byers was asked to explain why he gave financial aid to a British firm wanting to build electricity towers in central Java, just weeks before the militia's massacres in East Timor.

Byers has also had to defend the government's position on giving extended credits to Indonesia, enabling the continued delivery of Hawk fighters from British Aerospace.



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