Monday, October 24, 2011

Panetta to focus on military ties with Indonesia

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is looking to build military ties with Indonesia but Washington is watchful that Jakarta honours its commitment to reform its armed forces, accused of rampant rights abuses under Suharto, a US official said Sunday.

In a meeting Sunday with his Indonesian counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro on the resort island of Bali, Panetta will discuss regional issues and Washington's growing "military relationship" with Jakarta after a decade-long hiatus, the defence official said.

"We've seen incredible commitment of the Indonesian military and (defence) ministry to transforming the Indonesian armed forces," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"As a result of that transformation, we've been able to do more with them, both in terms of personnel exchanges, experts exchanges, exercises and even some defence trade and cooperation in sales and security relations," he added.

Relations with the Indonesian army had nearly screeched to a halt and remained frozen for 12 years over abuses during former dictator Suharto's 32-year rule.