US lifts embargo on military ties with Indonesia

The United States has restored military ties with Indonesia, ending a six-year ban on contact with the world's most populous Muslim nation imposed due to human rights concerns, the US State Department said. The US administration has long argued that isolating Indonesia, which has been hit by several bombings by al-Qaida linked terrorists in recent years, was not in Washington's strategic interests. The move, announced Tuesday in Washington, drew immediate criticism from rights groups. "With the stroke of a pen, Secretary (of State Condoleezza) Rice and President (George W.) Bush betrayed the untold tens of thousands of victims of the Indonesian military's brutality in Indonesia and East Timor," said John Miller, from the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network. US Congress cut ties with Indonesia's military in 1999 after it was accused of taking part in violence in East Timor during that territory's break from Jakarta-rule in a UN-sponsored referendum.