Letter: Human rights infringements draw contradictory responses

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Sir: Tony Worthington (Letters; 'Jets to Indonesia: flying in the face of human rights', 14 June) is wrong to suggest that British aid has been used as a bribe to obtain the pounds 500m Indonesian order for Hawk aircraft, the negotiations for which lasted well over two years.

Indonesia is a poor country with an impressive record of economic management. According to the World Bank, the proportion of Indonesians living in absolute poverty reduced from 60 per cent (70 million people) in 1970 to 15 per cent (27 million people) in 1990.

Our aid to Indonesia covers civil infrastructure projects that promote economic development - and offer opportunities for British exporters to establish themselves in an expanding market - and technical co-operation in such areas as primary education, forestry conservation, energy efficiency and public administration.

We continue to monitor closely the human rights developments in Indonesia and, when necessary, make our concerns clear to the Indonesian government both bilaterally and in company with our EC partners.

But we do not think that the cause of human rights or that of economic and social development in Indonesia would be well served by suspending our aid programme.

The latter has no connection with the Hawk aircraft deal, which has been negotiated by a British commercial company.

Yours truly,

CHALKER OF WALLASEY

Minister for Overseas Development

London, SW1

14 June

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