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DATE=9/29/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=COHEN-JAKARTA (L) NUMBER=2-254449 BYLINE=JIM RANDLE DATELINE=JAKARTA, INDONESIA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Defense Secretary William Cohen says Washington is sending more helicopters, troops and a large ship to help the peacekeeping force in East Timor. The announcement comes as defense officials say pro-Indonesia militias may be planning attacks on the Australian-led peacekeeping troops in the troubled territory. As V-O-A's Jim Randle reports, Mr. Cohen will warn Jakarta Thursday that such attacks could have serious consequences Text: A senior U-S defense official says there are signs that militia groups may be planning attacks on the several thousand members of the peacekeeping force in East Timor. The official told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary William Cohen that these militias have between two and four thousand members loosely organized into two dozen groups, with many operating in West Timor. Pro-Jakarta militia groups are blamed for the wave of violence that followed East Timor's overwhelming vote to break away from Indonesia. The widespread attacks left many dead and many homes and businesses in ashes. The official, who asked not to be named, warned that any attacks would bring a quick response with diplomatic, political and economic measures. Earlier, at a press conference in Darwin, Australia, Mr. Cohen announced he is dispatching more U-S military force to help the peacekeepers, including some helicopters. U-S officials say the rainy season will arrive soon in East Timor, turning the territory's many dirt roads into a muddy mess that will slow or stop the trucks carrying food aid to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by recent violence. Defense Secretary Cohen says the four powerful CH-53 helicopters will be sent from a base in Japan aboard a large U-S Navy ship. The big helicopters can fly over impassable roads to move relief supplies or military equipment from the airport at East Timor's capital, Dili, into the hills where displaced people are hiding. /// COHEN ACT /// These helicopters will operate from the deck of the U-S-S Belleau Wood. The ship is currently loading in Okinawa and will arrive in the area of East Timor in a matter of days. Australia asked for heavy-lift helicopter support, and we are deploying the U-S-S Belleau Wood, which is an amphibious carrier, as a platform for those helicopters. It has space to provide maintenance and other support (for the helicopters). /// END ACT /// The ship will also be bringing 19 other, smaller helicopters, including some heavily-armed gunships. Besides the helicopters, Mr. Cohen says the United States is dispatching a 130-member communications unit that will allow commanders to speak to their troops and with little fear the conversations will be overheard by Indonesian military or militia units. U-S officials say they have no plans to deploy U-S combat troops in East Timor. The new deployments follow two days of talks between Mr. Cohen and Australian officials. Australia is leading the multinational peacekeeping force, which has several thousand troops in East Timor. Mr. Cohen is scheduled to have talks Thursday with Indonesia's president (B-J Habibie), leading opposition figures, and military commander (General Wiranto). /// COHEN ACT /// I will stress that the government of Indonesia has an obligation to allow refugees in West Timor to return safely to East Timor, without interference or harm from the militia. /// END ACT /// Human rights groups say 150-thousand people displaced by militia attacks in East Timor are now in West Timor, where some are being held against their will by pro-Indonesian militia groups. Mr. Cohen will also press demands for democratic and military reform, and urge the Jakarta government to begin its own investigation of reported atrocities in East Timor. (Signed) NEB/JR/KL 29-Sep-1999 09:06 AM EDT (29-Sep-1999 1306 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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