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No political strings attached on purchase of French planes

Antara - June 13, 1997

Jakarta – France will not set any political condition if Indonesia wishes to purchase its warplanes, the French Embassy's military attache, Col M Jean Roucher, said here Wednesday.

Roucher was commenting on the departure of an Indonesian group to attend an air show in Le Bourget, France.

Indonesia last week cancelled its plan to purchase nine F-16 fighters and join a military program offered by the US following criticisms made by the US Congress on its human rights record.

Roucher confirmed that the Indonesian group was to leave for Paris on Thursday to see the French Air Show which will showcase the sophisticated fighter Mirage-2000.

The Indonesian group, whose members come from the country's industrial and military circles, was led by Research and Technology Minister BJ Habibie (*).

Roucher said another group, composed of invitees of the French government, will attend the air show.

He said the agenda for talks has not yet been finalized and may be discussed further upon the group's arrival in Paris.

He neither confirmed nor denied that Habibie is exploring the possibility of buying the Mirage-2000 after the official cancellation of the purchase of the F-16s. Roucher said Indonesia might be interested in purchasing warplanes from France, Russia or other countries.

No consultation on the matter has so far been done but France would be honored if Indonesia chooses its planes, he said.

Poster's Note: The French government awarded Habibie with the "Grand Officier de la Legion d'Honneur" medal last week, the highest token of appreciation to an official from another