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Indonesian defence policy stresses regional links

Reuters - July 22, 1997

Jim Della-Giacoma, Jakarta – Indonesia on Tuesday published an updated version of its 1995 white paper on defence, stressing the importance of regional links in maintaining security.

Officials said while releasing the 66-page document that the document was part of confidence-building measures suggested by the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations, groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"The 1997 White Paper in principle is aimed at developing mutual trust between the countries of ASEAN, the nations of the Asia-Pacific and the world in general through the transparency of defence and security policies," Indonesian Defence and Security Minister Edi Sudradjat said in a statement.

Sudradjat said in the statement, read out by an official at a news conference, that the changes to the 1995 White Paper included stressing the importance of a negotiated and peaceful solution to any conflict in accordance with international law.

The updated paper stressed that national and regional stability were the basis on which international cooperation could proceed, he said.

"In the framework of creating regional stability, the Indonesian nation will make as many efforts as possible to increase mutual trust," Sudradjat said.

"The growth of this mutual trust is a thing that must be built from the existence of mutual respect," he said.

"We must not interfere in the internal affairs of another country, prioritise cooperation which is mutually beneficial and each understand the values and culture of the other as well as far as possible avoid feelings of mutual suspicion," he said.

The revised white paper projected that Indonesia's armed forces, which include the national police, would reach a strength of 505,000 troops by the end the sixth Five-Year Development Plan in 1998/99.

Officials said these figures were not available at the time the white paper was first published in October 1995.

Sudradjat said it was forecast that by the end of this period the Indonesian army would increase to 243,000 from 235,237 troops. This would include raising the strength of the elite special forces to 5,000 from the current 2,000.

In the same period, the navy would reach 47,000 personnel with 127 warships and the strength of the air force would rise to 23,000, Sudradjat said, quoting from the white paper.

The police strength will increase to 192,000 personnel from their current 180,000, he added.

The report said that between 3.5 and five percent of Indonesia's population of more than 200 million would be "trained civilians," often given duties such as neighbourhood or village security.

Sudradjat stressed that despite the size of the Indonesian armed forces, its current $2.3 billion military budget, including the police, was only 1.8 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

He added the defence budget would increase to between two and three percent of GDP but did not give a time frame.

"Thailand spends roughly $3.5 billion on its military, excluding the police, and Singapore roughly $3 billion," he said.

"By comparison, Indonesia's defence budget in 1994 was 1.4 percent of GDP, while Thailand's was 2.8 percent, Malaysia's 4.0 percent and Singapore 5.2 percent."