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US Official Praises Reform Efforts in Indonesia - 2002-04-08

A top U.S. trade envoy visiting Indonesia has praised President Megawati Sukarnoputri for her effort to reform the economy and for her supportive role in the fight against terrorism.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick says it is extremely important to Washington that the administration of President Megawati Sukarnoputri succeed. He also praised the president for her moves to reform the economy, crack down on corruption and combat terrorism.

Mr. Zoellick made his comments after meeting Sunday with President Megawati over dinner in the Indonesian capital Jakarta prior to going to China and Japan. He spent the two previous days touring Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan. The islands are included in a free trade pact between the United States and Singapore expected to be signed later this year.

Under the agreement, some electronic goods made on the two islands will be regarded as Singapore-made products, and will therefore be allowed duty-free access to U.S. markets.

The Indonesian economy still hasn't recovered from the 1997 Southeast Asian financial crisis. Analysts say improved trade ties with the United States and other nations is one way to bring in more revenue.

In recent months, the relationship between Indonesia and the United States has focused strongly on security issues. Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world.

President Megawati has promised to support U.S.-led efforts to crack down on terrorist groups throughout the region.