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Old 01-12-2005, 09:26 PM   #441 (permalink)
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Indonesia orders troops out by end of March

Marines won’t set up camp;
Paris Group offers to suspend debt

The Associated Press
Updated: 7:44 p.m. ET Jan. 12, 2005


BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Indonesia announced that U.S. and other foreign troops providing tsunami disaster relief must leave the country by the end of March and ordered aid workers Wednesday to declare their travel plans or face expulsion from devastated Aceh province on Sumatra island.

The government’s moves highlight its sensitivities over a foreign military operation in this country — albeit a humanitarian one — and underscore its efforts to regain control of Aceh province, the scene of a decades-old conflict between separatist rebels and federal troops accused of human rights abuses.

In Paris, meanwhile, the world’s wealthiest nations said they supported a moratorium on debt repayments by countries stricken by the Dec. 26 disaster, which has killed more than 150,000 people.

The latest restrictions placed on the international presence came as the aircraft carrier leading the U.S. military’s tsunami relief effort steamed out of Indonesian waters Wednesday after the government declined to let the ship’s fighter pilots use its airspace for training missions. The USS Abraham Lincoln’s diversion was not expected to affect aid flights, however.

U.S. Marines have also scaled back their plans to send hundreds of troops ashore to build roads and clear rubble. The two sides reached a compromise in which the Americans agreed not to set up a base camp on Indonesia or carry weapons.

Instead, the Marines, about 2,000 of whom were diverted to tsunami relief from duty in Iraq, will keep a “minimal footprint” in the country, with most returning to ships at night, said Col. Tom Greenwood, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.


U.S. seeks explanation
In Washington, the White House asked the Indonesian government to explain why it was demanding that the U.S. military and other foreign troops providing disaster relief leave the country by March 31.

“We’ve seen the reports. ... We’ll seek further clarification from Indonesia about what this means,” said Scott McClellan, press secretary to President Bush. “We hope that the government of Indonesia and the military in Indonesia will continue the strong support they have provided to the international relief efforts so far.”


In announcing the decision, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Tuesday that “a three-month period is enough, even sooner the better.”

Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi explained that Indonesia hoped to take over the humanitarian work by March 26, exactly three months after the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake set off waves across southern Asia and Africa that killed more than 150,000 people, two-thirds of them on Sumatra.

Starting Jan. 26, Indonesia will “gradually take over the role of foreign military and non-military assistance,” Silalahi said. By Feb. 26, he said, Indonesia’s role should be larger than that of the foreigners.

Debt bills could be suspended
At a meeting Wednesday in Paris, a French official said the world’s wealthiest nations, including the United States, believed a suspension of billions of dollars in debt repayments by tsunami-devastated countries would provide a necessary “breath of oxygen” for recovery and reconstruction from the disaster.

While three debtor countries — Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Seychelles — support the moratorium, Thailand does not because it fears the potential effect on its standing in international financial markets, French Finance Minister Herve ***mard told RFI radio.

The proposed moratorium on debt repayments by tsunami-hit countries “was very quickly accepted” by the 19 creditor nations that make up the Paris Club, ***mard said. The details on the moratorium were being finalized Wednesday.

Later, as the Paris Club met to sign off on the proposal, ***mard told reporters that the leading industrialized nations within the club regarded the moratorium as “completely indispensable” for tsunami-hit countries “to overcome the immense difficulties.”


Sri Lanka, India also suspicious of help
Indonesia, where the tsunami killed more than 106,000 people, is not the only affected country that is ambivalent about U.S. military aid.

After the earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. military dispatched the Abraham Lincoln battle group to Sumatra and three ships carrying Marines toward Sri Lanka, where more than 30,000 people were killed. But two ships carrying Marines were diverted to Sumatra after Sri Lanka downgraded its request for help. India, where more than 10,000 were killed, rebuffed U.S. aid offers.

About 13,000 U.S. military personnel, most of them aboard ships in the Abraham Lincoln’s battle group, are taking part in the relief effort.

In Indonesia, hundreds of troops from other nations are also helping out, along with U.N. agencies and scores of non-governmental aid groups.

Australia has more than 600 troops in Aceh and expects to have about 300 more by week’s end. Japan has sent two ships with 350 troops and has promised to deploy about 1,000. Germany and Britain each has a smaller presence, involving mostly medical teams.

They, too, have agreed not to carry weapons while on Indonesian soil and are leaving security to the Indonesian military.

Both government troops and separatist rebels in Aceh say they will not launch attacks during the tsunami emergency. Indonesian soldiers and witnesses have described at least one clash in detail to The Associated Press, involving rebels who were either seeking food or trying to visit relatives.

Indonesia reasserts authority
The Indonesian government has traditionally barred foreigners from visiting Aceh, relenting after the tsunami struck and no other option existed but to invite foreign troops to deliver aid and set up field hospitals.

Indonesian authorities are now moving reassert control. On Wednesday, they ordered aid workers to declare travel plans or face expulsion from Aceh, saying it was for their safety.

The statement from Indonesia’s relief chief also said that if groups headed to regions considered dangerous, “then their safety will be organized by the national security authority.” It was not known whether that meant aid organizations might get military escorts.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard described the demand as “a good idea.” But Clive Williams, a defense expert at Australian National University, said the Indonesians wanted to keep close tabs on foreigners to conceal corruption.

“The big problem with dealing with [the military] in Aceh is that they’re involved in a lot of corruption there, and the reason I think they don’t want people to go to some areas is because they’re involved in human rights abuses,” said Williams, director of terrorism studies at the university’s Strategic and Defense Studies Center in Canberra.

U.N. officials worried the new rules might delay the delivery of supplies.

“Any requirements that would create any additional bottlenecks or delays or otherwise adversely affect our operations need to be reviewed very carefully,” said Kevin Kennedy of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Aid continues streaming in
The USS Abraham Lincoln’s diversion to international waters did not interrupt the steady stream of helicopter flights delivering aid along the devastated coast of Sumatra island, because they were able to refuel on other Navy ships closer to shore, Lt. Cmdr. John M. Daniels said.

Under Navy rules, pilots of carrier-based warplanes cannot go longer than 14 days without flying, or their skills are considered to have degraded too far and they have to undergo extensive retraining.

The bulk of the Marines’ mission, meanwhile, has become ferrying aid workers and transporting food from the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard. On Wednesday, Marine helicopters flew the first mission to the shattered city of Calang to drop off a French medical team. Helicopters also delivered supplies to Indonesian troops in Meulaboh, farther south.

Capt. David Shealy swooped his helicopter down on a scene of utter destruction — palm trees lying strewn across a beach, their roots sticking out of the sand. Rice paddies were filled with mud. Houses had been turned into piles of rubble, or washed out to sea. Bridges were buckled and broken.

But as Shealy lowered his helicopter to hover just a few feet over a road, hundreds of people suddenly appeared, swarming around, arms outstretched.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said Shealy, of Dillon, S.C.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6754820
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Old 01-12-2005, 09:34 PM   #442 (permalink)
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I understand why their doing it. Not sure its the best of options though. It has the potential to not go all that well...
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Old 01-12-2005, 11:36 PM   #443 (permalink)
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^ um, you need to check your facts. Over half the population of america is considered obese.
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Old 01-12-2005, 11:41 PM   #444 (permalink)
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yeah, I heard on the news that some indonesian groups are claiming that foreign aid is just an attempt to re-colonize their country, it's really just making an already devastating situation more sad.
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Old 01-13-2005, 01:02 PM   #445 (permalink)
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Not particularly surprising that predominantly non-Christian countries find the U.S. to be pretty untrustworthy at the moment. Unfortunately.
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Old 01-13-2005, 04:35 PM   #446 (permalink)
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Nonamericans: So, do people really hate Americans for being fat-arses? What's wrong with a lil' junk in the trunk?
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Old 01-13-2005, 04:40 PM   #447 (permalink)
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I think if someone really doesnt like America because loads of them are fat, that person should seriously think about getting some help...
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Old 01-13-2005, 04:47 PM   #448 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hookers with machineguns
Nonamericans: So, do people really hate Americans for being fat-arses? What's wrong with a lil' junk in the trunk?
I don't tend to hate Americans, just seems to be the people they elect.
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Old 01-13-2005, 05:16 PM   #449 (permalink)
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Ah, Dubya isn't so bad. He's an idiot, which is why he represents our people very accurately. And his definition of moral values is fitting for the typical gun-toting, Godsmoking, homophobic cross burner. If it wasn't for Dubya, American comedy would be a deadend. Who would we depend on for laughs and giggles? Ray Ramono? That dreadful Last Idiot Standing show? Puh-lease. God Bless America!

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Old 01-13-2005, 06:27 PM   #450 (permalink)
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it's not surprising but it's still pretty unjustified. If the countries giving aid to indonesia began to try to get involved in political or other internal affairs of the country not affected by the tsunami, then their fears would have some basis behind it, but this is just rediculous. Although of course it's only a small group of people voicing the opinion that the nations giving aid are trying to colonize them.
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