All is forgiven for the instrument of terror used in the classic jihad against East Timor in the 1990s. From the AP:
SYDNEY – Australian forces will resume training exercises with Indonesia’s Kopassus elite commando force next year, Defense Minister Robert Hill said Sunday.
The maneuvers will be the first since Canberra suspended joint training with the commando force known as Kopassus following widespread allegations the troops were involved in human rights abuses in East Timor ahead of the former Indonesian province’s 1999 independence vote.
“In this era of heightened terrorist threats, it is in Australia’s interests to engage with regional special forces, such as Kopassus, to safeguard the lives of Australians and Australian interests abroad,” Hill said in a statement.
The decision is the latest step in the international rehabilitation of Indonesia’s armed forces. The United States last month lifted a ban on arms sales to Jakarta that was imposed after the East Timor conflict.
Hill said members of Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment and Indonesia’s specialist counterterrorism unit, Kopassus Unit 81 would be involved in the two-week exercise that will include training in counterterrorism, dealing with hijackings and hostage recovery.
In an interview with The Sunday Age newspaper, Hill said Australia was confident no soldiers involved in human rights abuses in East Timor would be part of the exercise.
“They know to nominate somebody who has human rights blemishes on their record would be embarrassing to us and we are confident that such a person wouldn’t be in the group,” he told the newspaper.
“We do believe that Indonesia has made a serious effort to improve the human rights record of its forces,” he added. “The current government is very committed to that and if we look at how they’ve responded to the cease-fire in Aceh, its been really quite impressive.”