N Hassan Wirajuda: We are concerned by these military strikes

From a speech given by the Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents' Club
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The Independent Online

Politically and economically, we will maintain a solid bilateral partnership with the United States and Europe. That is the rationale behind the President's recent visit to the US. During that visit, President Megawati and President Bush discussed a wide range of issues and agreed to enhance bilateral relations in the fields of politics, economy, investment, trade, and social affairs.

The US reaffirmed its commitment to support Indonesia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It also agreed to resume military-to-military relations with Indonesia. These decisions have a special relevance to Indonesia's endeavour to maintain political stability and security, and to consolidate our economic recovery.

During the same trip, President Megawati also had fruitful discussions with the IMF and the World Bank. Such demonstrations of confidence in Indonesia's adherence to democracy and economic potential, I am sure, will have a positive impact on the attitude of the rest of the developed world toward Indonesia. We are truly grateful for these.

Sadly, on the eve of President Megawati's visit, we learned of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC. We were shocked beyond words at the carnage resulting from these acts of savagery. We immediately expressed our deepest condolences to the American people in their hour of bereavement. We also made it clear that we stood side by side with the United States in the struggle against the evil of international terrorism.

We deeply appreciate the decision of the US Government to push through with the visit of President Megawati even while it mourned its dead and went about the myriad tasks toward preparing a multilateral response to the terrorist attacks. International terrorism has been a long-time concern of Indonesia. We are therefore firmly committed to a multilateral struggle against this universal evil, a struggle based on the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. Indonesia has signed in New York the UN Convention on Suppressing the Financing of Terrorism and is committed to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities under Security Council resolution 1373 on terrorism.

However, we follow with deep concern the American and British military strikes in Afghanistan. For it is the position of Indonesia that any military action in Afghanistan should have very specific, appropriate and limited targets. It should avoid inflicting civilian casualties and the outbreak of another humanitarian tragedy. Above all, it should never be tantamount to an attack against the people of Afghanistan or to their Islamic faith, which we share with them.

We perfectly understand the desire of our people to express their sympathy and solidarity with the Muslim people of Afghanistan, whose suffering has multiplied with American and British military strikes. We are, after all, the world's largest Muslim nation. But the expression of these sentiments must be appropriate, within the bounds of law, and without compromising security and public order.

Indonesia is extending humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan in the form of food and medicine. We also urge the UN Security Council, consistent with its authority and responsibility to maintain international peace and security, to normalise the situation and attend to the humanitarian requirements in Afghanistan.

In carrying out the foreign policy that I have broadly described, we will be mindful of the linkage between national and international issues. Globalisation has indeed internationalised domestic issues and domesticated international issues.

For a long time, the Indonesian public did not quite see human rights in the same way that the international public did. This discrepancy became a constraint in the development of our foreign relations. We will do our best to remove that perception gap.

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