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Indonesia Ready to Send Peacekeepers to Afghanistan - 2001-11-14

Indonesia says it would be willing to send its troops to serve as peacekeepers in Afghanistan, if asked. The statement comes as the international community tries to cobble together a viable plan to bring stability to Afghanistan, after the expected fall of the Taleban.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wahid Supriadi says Indonesia would send peacekeepers to Afghanistan, if the United Nations asked it to. "As long as the U.N. decided there will be a peacekeeping force - we have been taking part in many occasions like that, like in Bosnia, and Cambodia, and so on," he said. The statement comes after a report in the New York Times quoted U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell saying that Indonesia was one of countries that might send troops for what he envisioned to be a peacekeeping mission led by predominantly Muslim countries. The secretary of state also said Turkey and Bangladesh had expressed willingness to participate.

The U.N. Security Council has yet to decide whether an international force will be deployed to Afghanistan. Thus, it has not been determined how many Indonesian personnel would be sent or what the nature of their mission would be.

Along with Australia, the Indonesian government crafted the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Cambodia in the early 1990's. Indonesian personnel also took part in the U.N. mission in Bosnia.

But domestically, the Indonesian armed forces have come under heavy criticism. Human rights groups accuse them of orchestrating the destruction of East Timor in 1999, of killing student demonstrators, and of using repressive means in attempting to crush separatist movements.