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Jakarta Rules Out US Troops in Indonesia to Fight Terrorists - 2002-05-13

Indonesia has not invited U.S. troops onto its territory to help fight terrorism. But top U.S. and Indonesian officials have voiced eagerness to re-establish military-to-military relations.

Indonesian visiting Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil said Monday there is no need for American troops to enter Indonesia to root out terrorists.

After talks at the Pentagon with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Indonesian official said his country's security forces can deal with any terrorist problem. "We remain confident in the ability of our national police and the military to deal with these threats," he said.

But Mr. Rumsfeld and the Indonesian Defense Minister both made clear their desire for closer military cooperation, effectively suspended since 1999 over Indonesian human rights violations in connection with East Timor's decision to break from Indonesian rule.

Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters that Indonesia is an important moderate Muslim state and he believes it is time for Congress to ease the restrictions that have cut off military training and arms sales.

"The steps the Indonesian government has taken and that the Minister has been discussing here, we are hopeful will be helpful with the United States Congress, given the fact that it was human rights violations that led to the restrictions and we are of the view that it's time for them to be adjusted substantially," he said.

The Indonesian official says his government has begun to place suspected human rights violators on trial, to reform the military and to stress the principle of civilian supremacy over the armed forces.