Robert Zoellick Press Conference in Indonesia
Press Conference in Indonesia
Robert Zoellick, Deputy
May 7, 2005
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well thank you all for coming. I am Bob Zoellick, the Deputy Secretary of State and this is the fourth country that I've visited on a trip throughout Southeast Asia. I've been to Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam over the past few days. Today in Jakarta, tomorrow in Aceh, and then I'll be going on to Malaysia and Singapore. The general purpose of the trip has been that as President Bush starts his second term, Secretary Rice and I wanted to make sure I had a chance to come out to visit our partners in this region and discuss with them some of their ideas of where we stand on a host of economic, political and security issues. See how we might work together during the President's second term.
In Indonesia, much of the focus has been on the pivot from humanitarian aid to reconstruction assistance. The president made a request of Congress that has now been through the conference committees, still has to get, return the final passage to the Senate of about $900 million of post-tsunami assistance for the various countries that were hit by the tsunami and, in the case of Indonesia, also a follow-up earthquake.
Today I had an opportunity President Yudhyodono was very generous with his time today. We had a good long conversation. This is in advance of his visit to the United States on May 25th. Then I had a meeting with the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Widodo, and I just finished a meeting with the Planning and Development Minister Sri Mulyani, and then we signed the agreement that most of you witnessed. I will then, this evening, have a chance to meet with the Coordinating Minister for Economics Bakrie, as well the Minister of Energy, Minister Mulyani, I believe will be there again, and then some representatives from the Finance Ministry and Trade Ministries. I also this morning started out with a very interesting roundtable at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which gave me a chance to get a view of some of the regional issues that some of the scholars at the institute were highlighting for me. And, our Ambassador put together an interesting lunch session with some of the organizations and countries that have been part of the tsunami donor effort. So the representative of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, UNDP, Ambassadors from Australia, the Netherlands, and Japan.
Tomorrow I will travel to Aceh where I'll meet the acting governor of Aceh as well as Minister Kuntoro, the new head of the Reconstruction Agency and then I am going to visit Lamteungoh-Lamtutui, a small village where we'll look at some of the small infrastructure projects that we're supporting as well as a community center in terms of some of the political support there, trying to make sure that the people of Aceh are involved with the overall project. And then I will visit Lhok Nga where we will be witnessing the effort that the U.S. government will be making as the start of rebuilding the Banda Aceh Meulaboh road, which is some 250 kilometers with about 117 bridges and an estimate from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of about $240 million of reconstruction. Also during my meetings, I had a chance to talk with the President and Minister Sri Mulyani about general economic reform efforts. And then we also covered a number of security issues: counter-terrorism, defense reform, the follow-up on the Timika murders. I had a chance to meet with our FBI Legal Attaché who has come out here working with the embassy on the investigation and I had a chance to thank President Yudhoyono for a very generous and warm letter that he sent to the widow of one of the people who was killed in that attack. And we talked about some of the follow-up of the investigation. We also talked about other human rights issues, the Aceh peace process, and also some of the regional issues involved with ASEAN and East Asia.
I will return to Washington late on May 11, but there's a nice sort of bookend in that May 12 is the day that there's a large conference in Washington about private sector donor assistance in the post-tsunami environment. This is put together by the Asia Society and the Asia Foundation. Minister Sri Mulyani will be there again. President Bush 41, the current president's father, as well as President Clinton will be taking part in it, given the effort that they've made, and President Clinton will have an on-going effort on behalf of the UN for private sector assistance. And then in the evening, if I am still awake at that time, Ambassador Dick Holbrooke will do an interview with me about the overall trip and some of the post-tsunami.
So, happy to take your questions.
Just stunned you with information.
QUESTION: Shawn Donnan from the Financial Times. This is unrelated to your trip to Indonesia, but obviously very much in the news. What North Korea, what are they up to? Is the evidence that you, or the information that you have at this point, point towards a nuclear test, or to something else there? And if there was to be a nuclear test in North Korea what would that mean for the security of the region and efforts at peace in North Asia?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Sorry to disappoint you, but since I've been absorbed with this trip, other than kind of reading what's in the newspapers and some of the basic, the cable traffic I get, I really don't have anything to add from what you've gotten out of a Washington audience on this.
QUESTION: Amy Chu from New Straits Times. Two questions. With regards to reconstruction in Aceh is the U.S. looking at some efforts or checks and balances to ensure that there are no leakages of funds? It's a huge amount of money going into Aceh, one. And secondly, was the issue of Hambali discussed, in terms of providing access to Indonesian anti-terror investigators to Hambali so that they can build stronger prosecution against terror suspects here? As I am sure you are aware, the trial of various terrorists like, suspected terrorists like Abu Bakar Ba'asyir he only got two years because there were not enough evidence so was that issue of Hambali discussed? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: The first one was the checks for the assistance. That came up in all of our conversations, because, obviously the government and the donor community need to strike a balance. We need to get money and assistance in quickly. There has been a tremendous job on the humanitarian side, but now we need to switch to the reconstruction side. But people obviously want to make sure that the money is spent transparently and without corruption. Minister Sri Mulyani explained to me a number of the accounting and auditing functions that they had in place and, in fact, the Ministry of Finance has been very restrictive in terms of some of the funding going out for this very reason. It actually fits with some of the larger issues that we discussed about how to improve the investment climate more generally in Indonesia. And I don't know if you were at the signing ceremony we just had, but some of the funds that the United States will be devoting will be to help deal with an anti-corruption accord, deal with inspectors general in some of the ministries. So I think this is part of an overall package and program, and I certainly had the sense that the Indonesian government is highly sensitive to the fact that the eyes of the world will be on it and the money needs to be well spent. You have a multiplicity of donors here, which adds to the challenge. You've got money coming in from the Indonesian government; you have money coming in from various government and public sector sources, U.S. government, rather large sums, but others as well. And you also have a large private sector component, both business and NGO. And some of the NGOs, for example, really have more of a specialization in terms of humanitarian aid, so they're needing to work with other partners as they move to their reconstruction side.
So, a lot of what I was trying to focus on today, was to learn more about how that coordination is taking place. So, you asked one dimension of it, which is the accounting and the checks. The other part is to make sure there's a connectivity here between donors and projects and purposes, and that's an item I'll be discussing further with Kuntoro, the new minister in charge of this effort. I also tried to learn a little bit about how the hand-off is working, and Kuntoro's new ministry will obviously be seconding people from some of the other ministries so that they will be able to draw on the current project plannings. So, what I've been trying to get into here in some detail and will tomorrow, is what I try to do on visits like this, which is to go beyond some of the materials that I've read and been given, and kind of dig in and see how it's really working. And so I try to triangulate, if you will, from different sources, including some of the other official embassies and others that were part of this here.
Your second question was, sort of the broader question of, sort of counterterrorism and the judicial aspects. I did discuss those. I discussed those with the president. I also discussed those with the Coordinating Minister for Security, and I think there is a very shared interest in recognizing that Indonesia has taken some strong steps in terms of anti-, dealing with terrorists, but obviously I expressed a concern about the relatively short sentences for some of the individuals, and so we talked about ways that we might, for example, support some of the legal and judicial and prosecutorial reform efforts in this process. To strengthen the overall capability to deal with antiterrorism. And I came away with a sense of a very strong commitment of the government to do so. We talked about that in terms of the security of Indonesia, but we also talked about it in terms of the economics of Indonesia, because we talked about investment climate and dealing with the overall security situation. So we covered a number of the individuals that you mentioned and we covered ways that we can try to cooperate. The government is looking to create some additional sort of coordinating mechanisms on these efforts, which will be up to them to talk about. But I think, in this sense, it helped sort of advance the discussion that the two presidents will be having on May 25th.
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Hendri from BBC Indonesian section. Just a short question. I want to ask about the IMET progress. Could you mind to elaborate about this IMET program progress and did you discuss with the President Yudhoyono this morning about this program?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I discussed it with the Coordinating Minister. I don't remember for sure. I think we talked more about defense reform more generally. But obviously, you know, the president himself is a graduate of the IMET program and is a good example of the strength of that program in terms of not only building ties between militaries but working with militaries in democratic societies and the rule of law. That's one of the issues that I talked about with both the President and the Coordinating Minister because there's a key transition here. And I discussed how I was certainly well aware of TNI's (Indonesian Armed Forces) key role in Indonesian history, its independence, its role with the state, but also the challenge of the transformation of TNI and some of the issues of civilian control, transparency in the budget process, moving it out of the businesses, which the government has been talking about over the course of recent weeks. And IMET can obviously be part of that reform process. As you probably know, the United States has certified some of the action in the Timika case to take a first step in terms of some very, very modest IMET funds. And, as I explained to the president and the Coordinating Minister, for us to do more we need to make additional progress on that investigation, and we also hope that they can have the follow-through on some of the human rights issues with East Timor. And so we would like to expand the efforts but to be able, and I think that they would be very timely given the efforts of this government with the reform. But we need to do so in a context of where we deal with some of these legacies while we also look to the future.
QUESTION: I believe you're aware that in ASEAN
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Your name and
QUESTION: Oh, my name is Okay from Kompas Daily. I believe you're aware that ASEAN plus Japan, China, and South Korea are now in process of establishing East Asia community. How do you see this new bloc could affect U.S. interests in this region? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I didn't quite get the East Asian community, is that what you're ? Yeah. Well, we discussed this issue as well, because one of the other points of my discussion was that I hope and believe ASEAN can play a larger role in the political, security, economic context of the Asian region, from South Asia to Northeast Asia. And, frankly, for ASEAN to play that role, it really requires Indonesia to take its traditional place, in terms of guiding the ASEAN process. For very understandable reasons, that hasn't really occurred since 1997 because of the preoccupation and the political process and change. I found the president and his team very interested in re-establishing Indonesia's role in the ASEAN context. It's one that I certainly encouraged and looked for ways that the United States could be supportive, in the sense that it encapsulates my whole trip. And, particularly on the question of the East Asian summit, Indonesia was one of the countries that encouraged an open and inclusive process of this, which we certainly welcome. From the perspective of the United States, I think, all the countries in the region sort of recognize the positive security presence of the U.S. in the region. And certainly, you know, in the aftermath of the tragedy in Aceh, it was very clear that the reach and scope of the United States and its military can be very important in dealing with a whole set of challenges. And some of the Indonesian interlocutors I had today, I forget whether they were with the think tank group or others, who were talking about the role of the aircraft carrier Lincoln and the health supplies that it had provided and others. So, there's no doubt of the U.S. presence and role, but then I think it is important that countries of the region decide whether they want to have an open and inclusive security system as part of that. As I have said on other occasions, I think the proper way for the United States to demonstrate its interests is with an activist policy, not a negative policy towards others. And this activism is in part humanitarian and reconstruction; it's in part our security presence. We talked about issues of maritime security and how we can support the capacity-building of some of the littoral states and dealing with issues whether it be piracy or organized crime or others. But, in other dimensions like free trade, where I was discussing with the Thais about moving forward our free trade agreement, and with the economic team here how we can strengthen the ties of trade. So one of the reasons that I wanted to come to the region was that Secretary Rice in her first months in office was in South Asia and Northeast Asia. I worked a lot with this region of the world over some twenty years and so know a lot of the leaders here. And so I wanted to hear their thinking about some of these issues and see how we could engage them constructively.
QUESTION: Tim Jones, from Voice of America. Admiral Fallon said he's very optimistic that they will or you will re-establish full military-to-military cooperation in the near future.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: How can you be from "Voice of America", you sound like you're an Australian.
QUESTION: The voice is kind of contradictory, but I'm trying to get them to change it, so
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: We're an open country.
QUESTION: Do you share his optimism, and if you do, do you have a timetable for that resumption of full military-to-military ties; and just to follow up on one other question, specifically, did you agree to give Indonesian investigators access to Hambali, which of course is one of the demands of the anti-terrorism investigation here?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well on your first question, about the Admiral's comments. I think we see a direction that's a very positive one. I outlined in the answer to the other question that we're going to need to make progress on some of the human rights issues. But I think that the comments that I heard about the progress of the defense reform were very encouraging, and we want to try to be supportive of that. But in more general terms, the United States has very strong military relations throughout the region. Thailand and the Philippines are treaty allies. I'll be in Singapore in a couple of days; we've got a particularly constructive relationship there. So I think part of what the Admiral and I are both exploring is "What are ASEAN's security interests?", and how given the history and their own security issues, how we can be supportive of those from counter-terrorism, to maritime, to anti-proliferation topics. Now your second question dealt with ?
QUESTION: Hambali. Access to Hambali. What are the issues of investigation?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: We didn't focus on that in our discussion; we did focus on some of our joint investigation in the Timika case.
QUESTION: I am Ibnul, from Tempo Daily. An Indonesian Air Force combat plane, an F5E, F-Tiger II type was sent to the United States in 1995 for maintenance, and now it's still being held in a storehouse in California. It costs the Indonesian Government $15,000 per month, effected by the 1991 embargo policy. Is there any possibility for the Indonesian Government to move the plane to another storehouse outside the United States?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I'm sorry, I don't know the answer to that one. Maybe the Embassy can follow up at some point with you. I do know that-- because I checked into this after I got a different question before starting the trip--the limitations that we have with Indonesia relate to foreign military financing, not necessarily sales of spare parts and other items, so I don't know where this fits into that process. But my colleagues here can get more details and I urge them to share it with you.
Any others? Yes sir.
QUESTION: I'm Michael from Waspada Daily in Medan. Secretary Zoellick, you mentioned about counterterrorism, defense form, human rights and the Aceh peace process. Yesterday, Admiral Fallon stated that he foresees the United States and Indonesia, military ties with positive development in the course of his new command. Now I understand that Washington lifted the embargo on the United States military weapons supply to Indonesia. Can you confirm that this has connectivity towards the United States support towards Aceh reconstruction, and military enhancement efforts between the United States and Indonesia?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: It's not connected to Aceh reconstruction. The question from the Voice of America reporter I tried to answer about the overall path, but Aceh reconstruction is a separate aid effort and is not connected to that item. We hope, and this was part of my discussions, to have good ties across political, economic and security grounds. One of the other aspects that was a part of our discussions is that you just had a major election here. You have a great example of democracy in action in a very important country in the region and indeed the first directly elected Indonesian President. So we see Indonesia as a democratic partner, as a country that we can work with on counterterrorism issues, that we have economic partnerships in terms of dealing with reconstruction, but also in the ASEAN and APEC context. So there's a broad network of ties here, and the military-to-military ties are perhaps most important in the effort to try to support the reform process, as well as work jointly on counterterrorism aspects which affect all of us, including the Philippines. Right, next question.
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN ERELI: Last question.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: There were two people that had two hands up, we'll try to deal with the two. This woman and that
QUESTION: This is related to the resumption of military ties again. I just want to get your I'm sorry, my name is Dewi from the Straits Times, Singapore. I just want to get your take on your assessment on the Timika case investigation, are you actually happy about that? I mean, what is your view on the ongoing progress?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Well, I won't be happy until the perpetrators are brought to justice. But I certainly had a strong sense from the visit today that the Indonesian government shares our interest. We've had some good cooperation and sharing of evidence dealing with the ballistics of the rifles, there is some evidence that was gained in Indonesia, some evidence that our prior investigators had at Quantico, that's been shared in recent times. One of the reasons that we now have a full-time person here from the FBI is to try to support the investigation, and he briefed me about his discussions with the police and as I mentioned, the President's commitment and the letter that he sent. And the Coordinating Minister was also very strong about the commitment to try to have the follow-through on this. One of the issues that was discussed, which I had not known about before was the efforts to also work with the Papua New Guinea Government, because this is obviously a long border, and one that is not easy to catch people in. And so if people are coordinated on both sides of the border, we have a better chance of catching the perpetrator or perpetrators.
QUESTION: My name is Nurul, from Investor. I would like to ask about the plan of free trade area between Indonesia and the U.S.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch it, the free trade agreement?
QUESTION: Free trade agreement.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Between Indonesia and the United States? We're not really at that stage in the process. I didn't get a chance to meet the Trade Minister because I believe she's out of the country today. She and I had worked together when I was in my prior post. But what the United States has presented to the ASEAN countries, something that President Bush presented a couple of years ago, is a plan called the "Enterprise for ASEAN" initiative, which tries to customize the trade relations for the interests and development of the different countries. So for example, yesterday I was in Vietnam, and they were working on the WTO accession, getting them into the World Trade Organization. We'd also got Cambodia in, we still have to get Laos in. I will be in Singapore in my last stop, where we're seeing some of the benefits of the Free Trade Agreement, including the intellectual property provisions drawing a whole new set of investments across a wide range of knowledge industries. In Thailand, we were focusing on getting that negotiation moving ahead. Here in Indonesia, the step has been to have an intermediate process we have, called a "Trade and Investment Framework Agreement", TIFA, where we have regular meetings that discuss issues of common concern, whether they be customs issues, whether they be resolving investment problems, also trying to link in our business communities into the process. And what we have encouraged is some studies to be done by think tanks to look at the effects of free trade agreements. And I know there's one being done by the East West Institute in Hawaii, dealing with the Philippines. It may also be dealing with Indonesia, I just don't recall for sure. And that's important because the way the U.S. does free trade agreements, they're very comprehensive. When people talk about free trade agreements in this region, they may often be dealing with just industrial goods, or industrial goods and a few sectors of agriculture. The United States does services, goods, agriculture, intellectual property, anti-corruption, government procurement, environment and labor, so to be able to undertake such a task, the government also must discuss it with its public, and that's where these studies are useful. So, to summarize, I think in the case of Indonesia, we're working on through the TIFA process, having analytical work done, and then frankly trying to work on some of the business and investment climate issues that this agreement that I just signed deal with, so as to create the context in case Indonesia wishes to go forward, cause this is an option and a choice, and it's up to countries in the region, and the U.S. has to decide how many it can manage at once too, because these are demanding negotiations.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK: Thanks.
Released on May 7, 2005