New York- The Bush administration seems determined tostep up its military ties withIndonesiaeven though the US Congress remains divided over the issue.
The Dow Jones Newswires reported that the administration had providedIndonesiawith spare parts for five of its 24 US-madeC-130 cargo planes even thoughWashington's long-standing ban on weapon sales to the Indonesian military, TNI, remains in place.
The ban was first imposed in 1991 when Indonesian troops went on a rampage inEast Timorshortly after it voted for independence fromIndonesia.
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was quoted as saying on Jan 31 that the spare parts were sent to Indonesia under existing provisions of the law that allowed for certain kinds of sales to the country.
Indonesiahad said that a lack of spare parts left 17 of its
C-130 cargo planes grounded when the Dec 26 tsunami hitSumatraisland, preventing troops from reaching many remote areas.
While the Bush administration is eager to lift theban on arms sales inexchange for Indonesia's support in the war against terror, the USCongress is not ready to do the same.
According to an AssociatedPress report on Feb 1,the US Congress isgearing up for a fight about whether to ease restrictions on military ties withJakarta.
Indonesia's supporters in Congress, such as Republican Senator Kit Bond, described President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as a reformer and urged forimproved military ties between the two countries.
But detractors such asDemocratic Senator Patrick Leahysaid therestrictions were reasonable and should not be lifted untilIndonesiahad proved its commitment to human rights.
* US has shipped spare parts to Indonesia (The Jakarta Post, Feb 3)