East Timor Crisis: US moves nearer to intervention

IN A sharp shift in policy, the United States accused the Indonesian army yesterday of direct involvement in attacks on civilians and UN officials in East Timor. This is the first time the US has acknowledged what has been clear for days on the ground, indicating that the West is set on a course of confrontation with the Indonesian military, and is moving towards direct military intervention.

"I am alarmed by reports I have just received of attacks on the UN compound in Dili. It is now clear that the Indonesian military is aiding and abetting the militia violence. This is simply unacceptable," President Bill Clinton said. He was travelling from America to New Zealand for a meeting of the Asia- Pacific Economic Co-operation organisation.

In a forcefully worded statement, the President said that Indonesia must accept an international force. "The Indonesian government and military must reverse this course, do everything possible to stop the violence and allow an international force to make possible the restoration of security,'' Mr Clinton said.

Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, said martial law had failed to restore order. He urged Indonesia to accept foreign military aid "to fulfil its responsibility to bring order and security to the people of East Timor".

France said it would join an international peace-keeping force in East Timor if the UN Security Council created one.

Tony Blair told Indonesia that it faced economic isolation if it did not act to curb the violence. In a 15-minute telephone conversation the Prime Minister told Indonesia's President, B J Habibie, that "there was mounting horror around the world at what was being allowed to happen in East Timor".

President Habibie told Mr Blair the situation would be brought under control. A spokesman for Mr Blair said: "The Prime Minister was therefore dismayed that the situation on the ground has not improved and that eyewitnesses say that far from attempting to restore order, the Indonesian armed forces are still standing by and in some cases assisting the militia in their campaign of destruction and terror."

Only hours before Mr Clinton's statement, the US had said that the solution to the problem could still be in Indonesia's hands, and said that an international force was only necessary if the military could not handle the problem.

America had been trying to handle the problem through military-to-military links. The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry H Shelton, had telephoned Indonesia's Chief General Wiranto twice. "I ... laid out to him in no uncertain terms what I felt that we needed to see from Indonesia and specifically from him and the army," General Shelton said on Thursday.

America also sent the commander of American forces in the Pacific, Admiral Dennis Blair, to Jakarta on Wednesday, apparently bearing an ultimatum: either the military solved the problem or the US would break off military relations. Military relations were ended on Thursday night.

America had earlier insisted that it would not send ground troops for any UN force, but that position had also shifted by yesterday. "I don't think anything is ruled out here," said the National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger. "I think that what the Australians are most interested in are those things that we have a special capability in: logistics and communications, intelligence and air lift," he said. "But we have not made any decisions beyond that and ruled anything out."

Mr Clinton's intervention, designed to stiffen the resolve of the UN Security Council, follows behind-the-scenes prompting by New Zealand and Australia. During telephone calls with Mr Clinton, the New Zealand and Australian prime ministers reminded him of their recent contributions to US-led multinational forces in other parts of the world.

New Zealand government sources are more optimistic that US assistance might now go beyond token logistical help for Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Fiji, the countries that would contribute the bulk of the troops to any multinational force. The New Zealand Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, is expected to flesh out options at a meeting with Mr Clinton before tomorrow's summit.

East Timor will be central to Apec's weekend work. Discussions will include the desperate need for humanitarian aid to help Timorese displaced after the havoc wreaked by pro-Jakarta militias. After meeting the Timorese independence leader Jose Ramos Horta yesterday afternoon, Mrs Shipley called on Indonesia to allow aid into the stricken territory. Under huge domestic pressure to do something, she followed America's lead last night and cut military ties with Jakarta.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game