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Indonesian military pulls back from NZ seminars

Oct 16, 2000

Indonesian military pulls back from NZ seminars

Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Keith Locke believes Indonesian military officials have been pressured to cancel their attendance at two seminars in New Zealand next month.

"It's a victory for those, like the Green Party, who said we shouldn't have the Indonesian military here when they've yet to take serious action against the militias in West Timor," said Mr Locke.

"For weeks our government has been saying it can't stop Indonesia participating in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium, to be held in Auckland from November 8-10. In a letter to me, dated September 18, it was stated that Indonesia would be represented.

"However, Minister of Defence Mark Burton now tells me Indonesia hasn't registered to come to this symposium. [Written answer to Question 17693]. It also won't be attending the parallel Asia-Pacific Military Operations Research Symposium to be held in Wellington, November 7-9.

"It's obvious to me that if there hadn't been public and behind-the-scenes pressure, Indonesia would have attended. They've been blocked from bilateral military contact with New Zealand, Australia and the United States, and would have been keen to make a showing at these multilateral symposia.

"There would have been demonstrations outside the Stamford Plaza hotel in Auckland if Indonesian officers had shown up to the naval symposium

"We congratulate the Government if they've been putting pressure on behind-the-scenes. US Defence Secretary William Cohen has taken a hard line against Indonesian inaction in West Timor, so there may have been pressure from that quarter too. The United States Pacific Command is the main force behind both symposia," said Mr Locke.

The naval symposium is attended by many western Pacific nations. A smaller number, those more closely associated with the United States, will be at the Military Operations Research Symposium. They include - in addition to the US - New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

Keith Locke MP 025 528353 Paul Bensemann, Press Secretary x6679, 021 214 2665

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