Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jakarta denies that pressure was applied over Special Forces Kopassus

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government has denied that it threatened to derail President Barack Obama's visit to Jakarta to pressure Washington into lifting its ban on training Kopassus, Indonesia's controversial special army forces.

The US announcement in July that it would remove its 12-year moratorium on training Kopassus, which has a long history of human rights abuses, was based on mutual interest, the Indonesian Defence Minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, said.

''In the agreement that we signed, Indonesia and the US had the same position. We did not force them,'' he said. ''We never did such a thing. Really, there is nothing [to the reports].''

The US embassy in Jakarta also denied the reports. ''The President's visit was not conditioned on re-engagement with Kopassus,'' said its assistant press attache, Corina Sanders.

However, cables from the US State Department, which were obtained by the Herald from WikiLeaks, show the President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, privately told the US that continuing the ban was the ''litmus test'' of the relationship between the two nations.

The cables also show that US diplomats encouraged Washington to yield to Mr Yudhoyono's demands to ensure Indonesia's military and security services would protect American interests in the region. Sydney Morning Herald

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