US calls Indonesia to pass military reform

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday defended her decision to restore military ties with Indonesia, but called on Jakarta to keep working toward complete reform of its armed forces.

The military was the main pillar of the 32-year dictatorship of former strongman Suharto, who was ousted amid democracy protests in 1998. The United States cut all military ties with Indonesia the next year after the army and militia proxies devastated East Timor during its break from Jakarta.

Last November, Rice waived all restrictions on military assistance, saying the ban was not in Washington's strategic interests. The move triggered protests from local and international rights group, which said the armed forces had not changed their ways.

Rice said she lifted the ban because Indonesia had "chosen a democratic path."

"We look forward to continued progress toward greater accountability and complete reform in the military sphere," she said in a speech wrapping up a two-day visit to Indonesia. "A reformed and effective Indonesian military is in the interest of everyone, because threats to our common security have not disappeared."

A coalition of rights group Wednesday reiterated its criticism of her decision, reports the AP.


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