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Indonesia says to ratify nuclear treaty after US

world Updated: Jun 09, 2009 10:45 IST

AFP
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Indonesia on Monday offered a boost to President Barack Obama's vision of a nuclear-free world, pledging to ratify a treaty banning nuclear tests if the US Senate does.

Obama said in April said he would ask the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), part of his ambitious goal of eliminating nuclear weapons unveiled in a speech in Prague.

Indonesia is one of nine countries including the United States that need to ratify the treaty, which would ban all nuclear explosions everywhere for any purpose, to come into force.

"We share his vision of a world in which nuclear weapons have been eradicated," Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said on a visit to Washington.

"We trust that he will succeed in getting the CTBT ratified - and we promise that when that happens, Indonesia will immediately follow suit," he said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Wirajuda spoke before a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who visited Jakarta in February in a sign of the new US administration's interest in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

While Obama's anti-nuclear initiative was mostly well-received around the world, one holdout from the treaty - North Korea - brazenly defied it by testing an atomic bomb last month.

The other nations that have not ratified the treaty are India and Pakistan, which both refuse even to sign it, along with China, Egypt, Iran and Israel.

Indonesia operates nuclear reactors but does not have nuclear weapons. Wirajuda said the threat of a "nuclear holocaust" had been growing until Obama's initiative.

Wirajuda said Indonesia was ready to help the United States negotiate with North Korea and Iran, which is suspected of seeking nuclear weapons. Indonesia maintains friendly relations with both Tehran and Pyongyang.

Clinton, in her meeting later with Wirajuda, said the Indonesia and the United States were committed to building "a comprehensive partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interests."

The world's second and third largest democracies "share a commitment to democratic values, human rights and a vibrant civil society," she said.

"The American people have the greatest respect for what the Indonesian people have accomplished in the last decade," she said, referring to the archipelago's transition to democracy.

She announced a 10 million-dollar grant to support higher education in Indonesia, including English-language teaching.

Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, an experience he credits with giving him a greater understanding of the Islamic world. In turn, Obama is wildly popular in much of Indonesia, in contrast to predecessor George W Bush.

Wirajuda lavished praise on Obama's speech last week in Cairo, in which the US leader called for a "new beginning" with the Muslim world after years of mutual suspicion.

The foreign minister called it "one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard from a world leader."

As the foreign minister visited, the US-Indonesia Society - which promotes ties between the two nations - released recommendations to develop a partnership between the two countries.

It called for an end to a ban on US military training of Indonesian units accused of human rights violations in the past, saying that Washington should instead only blacklist individuals over wrongdoing.

Clinton said the United States was ready to discuss "closer relations" between the two countries' militaries.

In their news conference, Clinton and Wirajuda also said they would work together to try to free Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi who is being tried by the military junta.