Defense with Singapore on Ice

Defense Pact with Singapore Put on Ice

JAKARTA ~ The central government and Singapore have agreed to temporarily set aside a defense pact and an extradition treaty over which the two had differences, the Foreign Ministry here said this week.

Analysts had hailed the deals, signed in April, as a sign of improved diplomatic relations between the two countries. But the agreements soon met trouble, with each side accusing the other of insisting on last minute changes.

“The foreign minister said that both governments have agreed to temporarily put aside the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) until a better time for it to be discussed again,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kristiarto Legowo said.

The two agreed in 2005 to conclude the extradition treaty and the defense pact as one package, meaning if agreement stalled on one, the other deal would also be held up.

Some Indonesian lawmakers had opposed the defense pact, saying it would undermine national sovereignty because of where and how often the Singapore military would hold exercises in Indonesian territory.

It is not clear when the agreements will return to the table. Both countries’ parliaments need to ratify them, and other details still need to be worked out.

Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it remained committed to the deals and it accepted that the Indonesian government may need more time to get parliamentary approval.

Indonesia has long wanted an extradition accord with Singapore to pursue corrupt officials and business executives suspected of fleeing to the island-republic with state funds following the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Singapore, a regional financial centre, has denied allegations from Jakarta lawmakers that Indonesian criminals use it to launder money, saying they have proper safeguards.

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