Canberra renews Kopassus ties
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own
alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.
Or, visit Popular Alerts
CANBERRA, Australia (CNN) -- Australia has renewed military links with Indonesia's special forces in the wake of a growing Southeast Asian terror threat.
Canberra severed ties with Indonesia's controversial Kopassus unit four years ago after its forces were implicated in fomenting pro-government militia violence in East Timor.
Australia's defense force chief general Peter Cosgrove said Sunday recent terror bombings in Indonesia added impetus to efforts to increase cooperation between Australian and Indonesian military forces.
Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Asia-Pacific Focus program, Cosgrove said co-operation had already resumed between Australian forces and Kopassus.
"A part of Kopassus has a unique, military counter-terrorist function in Indonesia, and it's that particular part of Kopassus where we're looking for heightened levels of cooperation," Cosgrove said.
"We should collaborate (with Kopassus) strictly in those areas where we can all agree that it would be folly if we didn't have some relationship and some arrangement to help save lives," he said.
Cosgrove was the commander of the Australian-led peacekeeping force which was sent to East Timor in 1999 to restore order after pro-Jakarta militias went on a violent and murderous rampage following a pro-independence vote in the then Indonesian province.
The sending of those forces, which ultimately resulted in East Timor's independence, soured political and military relations between Canberra and Jakarta.
However cooperation has been gradually returning, especially following the October 12 Bali bombings which killed more than 200 people, including 88 Australians.
Australian federal police and investigators have assisted Indonesian police in tracking down those responsible for the Bali attacks and assistance has also been offered with last Tuesday's bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.
Cosgrove said renewed cooperation between Kopassus' counter-terror units and Australian military had started well, but added there were no Australian special forces currently in Indonesia.
He told the ABC the relationship would be allowed to "unfold logically".
The revelation of the Kopassus relationship has caused consternation in Australia Monday, with opposition politicians and academics questioning the wisdom of the decision.
Apart from its involvement in East Timor, Kopassus is also suspected of carrying out state-sponsored atrocities in the Indonesian provinces of Ambon, Aceh and West Papua.