- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2000

'Inappropriate' mission

The foreign minister of Indonesia said his government has warned the United Nations against sending a mission to his country to investigate the killing of three U.N. relief workers last week.

Alwi Shihab said Indonesians would view such a mission as interference in the country's internal affairs.

"Indonesia is of the opinion that the presence of the U.N. mission here would be inappropriate because we are still trying to earnestly resolve the problem," he told about 300 guests at Johns Hopkins University on a visit to Washington this week.

Mr. Shihab said his government has dispatched two battalions of police to the West Timor village of Atambua where the U.N. workers were killed Sept. 6.

Two days later, news reports said Indonesian militias slaughtered 20 villagers. The government said no more than 11 were killed.

The same militias went on a killing rampage in East Timor last year after residents there voted for independence from Indonesia. U.N. peacekeepers later pushed the militiamen into West Timor.

Mr. Shihab said, "The Indonesian government is responding … and we believe that we should be given trust, sovereignty and a chance to do what we have to do."

Mr. Shihab proposed that a mission composed of Indonesian-based foreign ambassadors from U.N. Security Council countries would be an acceptable alternative to a U.N. delegation.

"By postponing the U.N. mission visit to Indonesia, we could defuse a strong backlash from the Indonesian people who perceive the mission as an international interference in the country's domestic problem," he said.

In Indonesia yesterday, the U.S. Embassy offered to help investigate the car bombing of the Jakarta Stock Exchange building, which killed at least 15.

"If asked, we stand ready to assist the Indonesian government in trying to solve this crime and in preventing further acts of terrorism," the embassy said in a statement.

"We call upon the perpetrators of this and all acts of terrorism to cease their unspeakably cruel actions."

The embassy also expressed its "its profound sympathy" to the 27 persons wounded in the blast and to the families of those who were killed.

Wooing Sudan

An American diplomat has approached Sudan about re-establishing a permanent U.S. presence in the country four years after the United States withdrew its diplomatic staff for security reasons, a Sudanese official said this week.

State Foreign Minister Ali Abdel Rahman Nimeiri said Raymond Brown, the U.S. charge d'affaires, met with him on Wednesday, the official SUNA news agency reported.

The United States relocated its diplomatic staff to Kenya, but Mr. Brown has been paying frequent visits to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to run the embassy.

Mr. Brown said the United States "is willing to maintain serious dialogue on all issues of dispute with Sudan" and establish "a constructive business relationship with Sudanese officials," Mr. Nimeiri said.

Relations with Sudan worsened in 1998 when the United States bombed a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant suspected of manufacturing poisonous gas, which Sudan denies. The United States also considers Sudan a state sponsor of terrorism.

Aliyev gets checkup

President Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan is ending his U.S. visit with a routine medical exam in a Cleveland clinic where he had heart surgery last year, the Azerbaijani Embassy said yesterday.

"Usually every time he comes to the United States, he pays a half-day visit to Cleveland for a checkup," embassy spokesman Elin Suleymanov told Agence France-Presse.

Mr. Aliyev had a heart bypass operation in May 1999 after attending NATO's 50th anniversary ceremony in Washington.

The latest visit follows his trip to New York last week where he led his country's delegation to the U.N. Millennium Summit.

He was in Washington on Tuesday for a Capitol signing ceremony of an oil-production agreement with Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, Petoil of Turkey and Moncrief Oil International of Fort Worth, Texas.

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