US Is Indonesia’s ‘Dependable Friend’

JAKARTA ~ The United States and Indonesia are discussing ways to further their military partnership and work together in the region, top US General Peter Pace said here.

Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Indonesian military leaders on Tuesday to discuss how to strengthen ties.

“I’m very comfortable with the relationship that exists right now, and especially between the Indonesian armed forces and the US armed forces,” he told reporters.

“I came here only to talk on how the US and Indonesian military can work together regionally for the betterment of both our countries,” the general said.

“We had our problems 10 years ago that we no longer have, and I’m very pleased that we’re beyond that,” said Pace.

The US restored full military relations with Jakarta in 2005, lifting restrictions imposed in 1991 in response to human rights abuses by the Indonesian military during a bloody crackdown in East Timor.

Fears of militant Islamic groups mushrooming since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US have spurred Washington’s efforts to deepen security ties with Indonesia.

Pace said he and Yudhoyono discussed the possibilities of working in peacekeeping missions, but no decisions were made.

“We want to be a dependable friend,” he said.

“We very much appreciate the leadership Indonesia naturally exerts in this region.”

On China’s influence in the region, Pace said he was optimistic about bilateral relations despite Beijing’s recent test of a satellite-killing missile.

“Certainly the Chinese are increasing their capacity. They had their anti-satellite test recently; they are building more navy platforms, more submarines,” he said.

“But certainly I am not aware of any intent on their part to use any of those capacities in an aggressive manner,” he said.

Pace said he and Yudhoyono, a former general, also talked about their mutual concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

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