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Tsunami aid efforts boost US image in Indonesia, says poll

Updated On: Mar 08, 2005

Jakarta– TheUnited States’ image inIndonesiahas improved tremendously as a result of the massive aid that it poured into Aceh following the Dec 26 tsunami tragedy. A poll of1,200 Indonesians in February showed that 65 per cent of the respondents had a more favourable view of theUSbecause of the American response to the disaster.

Theproportion of Indonesians with a negative opinion of theUSdeclined to 54 per cent from 83 per cent in 2003, according to the poll conducted by Lembaga SurveiIndonesia.

The survey, which was released inWashingtonon March 4, was commissioned by Terror Free Tomorrow, a US-based non-profit group outto defeat global terrorism by undermining its support base.

Some 40 per cent of Indonesians favoured US-led efforts to fight terrorism, a larger proportion than those who opposed it (36 per cent).

Two years ago, 72 per cent of Indonesians were against it. The poll also found that Indonesian public opinion was turning against terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.

The proportion of Indonesians expressing confidence in the Al-Qaeda leader fell to 23 per cent from 58 per cent in 2003.

“This is a stunning turnaround for theUnited Statesin the war against terrorism,said Terror Free Tomorrow president Kenneth Ballen. “It is the first major shift in Muslim public opinion since Sept 11.”

TheUSresponse to the tsunami had a “profound effect” on Indonesians”.

TheUSmilitary, which deployed 16,000 servicemen and numerous ships, planes and helicopters to northSumatra, played a critical role in distributing emergency relief.

The Bush administration has pledged US$950 millionto assist tsunami-reconstruction efforts

Analysts said to further improveUSimage overseas, theUShas to stay committed to reconstruction efforts inIndonesiaand other tsunami-hit regions.

* Anti-US sentiment in Indonesia improving, survey finds (The Straits Times, March 7)