Da International Herald Tribune del 15/03/2006
Originale su http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/03/15/news/rice.php

Rice defends policy in Indonesia speech

di Steven R. Weisman

JAKARTA - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday tried to assure Indonesia that the United States believes strongly in the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, despite concerns here that the administration of President George W. Bush had tried to bypass the group and make commercial and trade deals with individual members.

The centerpiece of her speech to the Indonesia World Affairs Council was a defense of the administration's promotion of democracy in troubled regions. She said Indonesia had proved it was possible to overcome sectarian and ethnic differences and forge a democratic system.

Rice also said Indonesia had made progress in combating military corruption. "A reformed and effective Indonesian military is in the interest of everyone in this region, because threats to our common security have not disappeared," she said.

Rice was well received at her speech, to 500 business, academic and civic leaders, but she faced pointed questions about U.S. policies, especially in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many in the audience also appeared to feel the United States was heavy-handed in its approach to Southeast Asia.

To a questioner demanding to know why the United States uses force to get its way, Rice said that it was "rare, very rare that military power is needed" to bring about change. On U.S. policies toward Indonesia, she said: "It's not paternalism, it's a partnership."

The session reflected what U.S. officials say is lingering distrust of American intentions. Indonesia, for example, has not backed the U.S. approach to bring Iran to the UN Security Council.

Also, Indonesia and several other countries in the region oppose the U.S. effort to force a cutoff in ties to Myanmar.

On Tuesday, Rice and the Indonesian foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, used the phrase "strategic partnership," reflecting U.S. interest in building this country into a major commercial and military power in Southeast Asia, in part to help counter the influence of China.

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