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Cablegate: U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit Gets Media

VZCZCXRO9654
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #0740 1020819
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 110819Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8676
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2324
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0913
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1752
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1811
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2536
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 2590
RUEHPT/AMCONSUL PERTH 0702
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RULSAAV/NAVMEDRSCHCEN SILVER SPRING MD
RHHJJPI/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFISS/BUMED WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 000740

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/P, L, OES
NSC FOR E.PHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR TBIO AMED ID
SUBJECT: U.S. NAVAL MEDICAL RESEARCH UNIT GETS MEDIA
ATTENTION

REF: A. JAKARTA 673
B. 07 JAKARTA 3262 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) This message--which is Sensitive but
Unclassified--contains an Action Request. Please see paras

SIPDIS
5-6.

2. (SBU) PRESS STORY: A major Indonesian newspaper
reported on April 10 that the GOI had closed the U.S. Naval
Medical Research Unit in Jakarta (NAMRU-2). In fact, the
facility remains in operation--see below. The article, which
appeared in the online version of the Indonesian language
daily Sinar Harapan, cited a March 31 letter from the
Ministry of Health (MOH) to NAMRU-2 instructing NAMRU to
cease all studies involving specimens collected in Indonesia
(ref a).

3. (U) The article quoted an MOH official as linking the
GOI's decision to shut the facility to "the failure" of the
USG and the GOI to conclude a new MOU relating to its
operations. The story also cited anonymous sources who
implied that the action was being taken to protect "the
health" of Indonesians, and repeated previously aired
assertions by some GOI officials that NAMRU-2 was sending
specimens to the U.S. for malign purposes.

4. (SBU) BACKGROUND: The March 31 letter to the USG, which
was signed by the MOH's Director of the National Institute of
Health Research and Development, did not in fact shut NAMRU-2
down as reported. It did, however, further restrict
NAMRU-2's ability to operate in Indonesia (ref a). That
said, NAMRU-2 remains in operation.

5. (SBU) REQUESTED ACTION: The press story, which already
has been picked up by foreign news services, means the MOH
decision is beginning to become public knowledge. So far, we
have not been asked about the story, though we are preparing
press guidance, which we plan to send to EAP/MTS and EAP/P.
The publicity will likely only further confuse the public
about NAMRU's purpose.
Q. (SBU) It is Mission's understanding that moderate
elements within the GOI continue to support the negotiations
for a new MOU as a means of placing this cooperation on a
firmer basis. We repeat our ref A request that Washington
conclude the inter-agency review of the current
Indonesia-proposed MOU text and Mission's comments (ref b),
so that Mission can resume negotiations with the GOI on this
matter before it becomes even more of a potential political
football.


HUME

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