Vice President: Indonesia Should Heed US Call to Fight Terrorism
Indonesia should heed any demand from the United States to join the fight against international terrorism, Vice President Hamzah Haz said Wednesday.
"We should not reject it," Haz was quoted by the Satunet online news service as saying on the likelihood of Washington seeking Indonesian support.
President Megawati Sukarnoputri, leader of the world's largest Muslim-populated nation, was scheduled to meet US President George W. Bush in Washington later on Wednesday.
Megawati has condemned what she called the "brutal and indiscriminate" September 11 assaults on the United States, and has said her country will join the global battle against terrorism.
But she was expected to caution Bush against taking any hasty reprisals which could be interpreted as revenge against Islam.
The United States has pledged to wage a war against terrorism and has named Saudi exile Osama bin Laden -- who is sheltered by Afghanistan's fundamentalist Islamic Taliban militia -- as the prime suspect in the deadly assaults in New York and Washington.
Haz was also quoted as saying that Indonesia needed an anti-terrorism law, but did not elaborate. Jakarta is battling separatist revolts in Aceh and Irian Jaya provinces.
Haz, who heads the largest Muslim party, had earlier condemned the attacks but warned the US against making any Muslim nation a scapegoat.
According to Muslim scholars, Haz said in weekend comments that tragedies can cleanse sins.
"Hopefully, this tragedy will cleanse the sins of the United States," Sunday's Kompas newspaper quoted him as saying.
Megawati will go ahead with her visit to New York next week despite the cancellation of the UN General Assembly session which she planned to address, the state Antara news agency said Wednesday.
It quoted State Secretary Bambang Kesowo, who is travelling with the president, as saying she would fly to New York from Houston on September 24 as planned and an alternative schedule was being prepared -- JAKARTA (AFP)
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