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Letter: Cook fails to act over East Timor

Cook fails to act over East Timor

Sir: Robin Cook's proposals on Indonesia (reports, 30 August) are derisory. By tolerating contracts agreed under the Tories, the Labour government shows its determination to continue arming a universally acknowledged aggressor.

A further dereliction of British responsibility is the failure to urge robust action through the UN Security Council. Britain has always supported SC sanctions Resolutions 661 and 687 in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. It has always supported sanctions Resolutions 748 and 883 to punish Libya for failing to hand over the two Lockerbie suspects, even though Libya has no extradition treaty with Britain or the United States.

In 1975/76 Britain supported SC Resolutions 384 and 389 condemning the Indonesian invasion of East Timor and demanding withdrawal. A sanctions resolution should have followed Indonesian non-compliance.

In his memoirs, A Dangerous Place, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former US ambassador to the United Nations, celebrates his role in blocking any effective UN action on East Timor: "The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success."

If Labour's "ethical" foreign policy means anything it is time to reverse Britain's 22-year acquiescence in US support for Indonesian tyranny and aggression. A comprehensive and mandatory Security Council resolution for an international arms embargo on Indonesia is long overdue.


Stockport, Cheshire