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US Deputy Defense Secretary Meets With Indian Counterpart


Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has met with India's defense minister, and urged India to exercise restraint amid escalating tensions with Pakistan. Mr. Wolfowitz, visiting Singapore for a conference, also said the United States hopes to encourage reform in the Indonesian military.

Mr. Wolfowitz said the United States does not want to see its relationship with India and Pakistan damaged by war. He met with Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes.

India and Pakistan have massed nearly a million troops at their shared border. "We also believe that war is not the solution to the problem, that war in the subcontinent has the potential of catastrophic consequences that would do untold damage to India, to Pakistan and to the whole world," Mr. Wolfowitz said.

The Indian defense minister told reporters that the situation along the India-Pakistan border remains stable. "The troops have been on both sides, kind of eyeball-to-eyeball situation in the past six months. So, I don't think one needs to worry just now what's likely to happen," Mr. Fernandes said.

Mr. Wolfowitz also met with Indonesia's defense minister before the start of a three-day security conference. He said that closer defense ties with Indonesia could aid the pace of military and democratic reform in the country. "That requires two things, which both have to be achieved: One is military reform, but the other is an effective military - that Indonesia clearly isn't going to succeed as a democracy, unless the military is under effective civilian control, and the military abuse is curbed," he said.

Indonesian Defense Minister Matori Abdul Djalil said after the meeting that his government has improved its law enforcement and human rights record.

"Of course, we do like to have the professional military, who have a good accountability and understanding about the value of human rights to enforce law and to respect the value and principle of democracy," he said.

Mr. Matori said that, while Indonesia supports the U.S. war against terrorism, it does not need U.S. troops deployed in the country. He says training such as the U.S. military is doing in the Philippines is not needed in Indonesia.

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