Indonesia has told the U.S. Secretary of Defense that Washington should not interfere with the anti-terrorism efforts of Asian nations. Donald Rumsfeld is in Indonesia as part of a three-country tour of the region aimed at strengthening anti-terrorism ties and military cooperation.
The Indonesian Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono Tuesday warned Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that the United States risks a backlash if it persists in forcing its approach to fighting terrorism on other nations.
Juwono says other countries feel threatened by the United States because of its unequaled economic and military power.
"As the largest Muslim country, we are very aware of the perception, or misperception, that the United States is overbearing and over-present and overwhelming in every sector of life in many nations and cultures," he said.
Rumsfeld responded by saying the United States has never told any country to do something it was "uncomfortable with" in fighting the global threat of terrorism.
"It strikes me that the minister's correct, that each country has a different history, a different circumstance, different population, and a different government and it's necessary to allow that degree of flexibility so that they can participate in a way that they feel comfortable with and not feel imposed upon," said Rumsfeld.
He added that between 80 to 85 countries were now cooperating and sharing information as part of the fight against terrorism.
Secretary Rumsfeld held talks Tuesday in Jakarta with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and top security officials about ways to improve military ties. The U.S. cut military ties with Indonesia in 1999 over rights abuses by the Indonesian military during East Timor's vote for independence from Jakarta.
But the U.S. resumed military assistance last November.
Indonesia, which has suffered a series of terrorist bombings blamed on the al-Qaida linked regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, is now a key Washington ally in the war on terror.
Secretary Rumsfeld also discussed ways to boost cooperation in the fight against terrorism during Tuesday's meeting, along with security in the world's busiest shipping lane, the Malacca Strait.
Rumsfeld arrived in Indonesia after visiting Singapore and Vietnam on his tour of Southeast Asia.