Viewing cable 06JAKARTA12547

06JAKARTA125472006-10-13 11:39:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta

DE RUEHJA #2547/01 2861139
O 131139Z OCT 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L JAKARTA 012547 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/13/2016 
REF: STATE 153063 
Classified By: DCM John A. Heffern, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1. (C) Summary:  U.S. delegation's exploratory talks with the 
Indonesian government on October 5 in Jakarta made 
considerable headway in establishing a basis of understanding 
for possible formal negotiation of a bilateral Status of 
Forces Agreement (SOFA).  Embassy shared a draft template 
text (reftel) with GOI in advance and USDEL addressed GOI 
concerns over the rationale for a SOFA as well as specific 
provisions in the draft text.  The Indonesians were 
represented by the Department of Foreign Affairs, but other 
agencies are expected to be included in future discussions. 
USDEL met separately with the Indonesian Department of 
Defense.  GOI interlocutors expressed interest in receiving a 
revised text addressing Indonesian concerns, preferred an 
agreement as opposed to an exchange of notes and were open to 
further talks.  Key issues are expected to be criminal 
jurisdiction, the carrying of weapons and the scope of the 
agreement, primarily because of their sensitivity among the 
Indonesian public.  Embassy proposes to use the upcoming 
visit of President Bush to secure high-level agreement to 
begin formal negotiations.  End summary. 
¶2. (C) Political-Military Affairs Senior Adviser Ambassador 
Robert G. Loftis and his delegation, accompanied by Embassy 
Jakarta Charge d'Affaires, conducted exploratory talks with 
Indonesian officials on October 5 as a prelude to possible 
negotiations.  The talks succeeded in laying out for the GOI 
the basic elements of a SOFA, clarifying terminology and the 
practical application of these elements and addressing GOI 
policy concerns.  Nonetheless, substantive reservations on 
specific issues will need to be overcome.  By the end of the 
talks, GOI interlocutors were ready to receive a revised U.S. 
text for further discussion. 
¶3. (C) The Indonesians were well prepared and had read 
carefully the draft text provided in advance.  The main 
discussion took place at DEPLU and consisted solely of DEPLU 
representatives from the Americas Desk and DEPLU offices for 
international security, legal affairs and consular affairs. 
The Indonesian side was led by Director General Eddi 
Hariyadhi, supplemented by Americas Desk Director Harry 
Purwanto.  DEPLU acknowledged other agencies would need to 
participate directly at later stages but said the DEPLU 
presentation reflected interagency views. 
¶4. (C) Loftis opened by explaining that the text was being 
used worldwide for SOFA arrangements where troops might be 
deployed temporarily and noted the United States had 
approximately 80 such agreements.  GOI should see the SOFA as 
a "framework document" setting forth respective terms, 
conditions and responsibilities for military cooperation, as 
a means of strengthening cooperation.  Although the USG had 
certain conditions it needed to meet within each SOFA, the 
text was negotiable in order to accommodate the specific 
needs of the relationship. 
¶5. (C) In the initial GOI statement, Hariyadhi said Indonesia 
saw the chief benefit of a SOFA in humanitarian disaster 
relief.  Indonesia was grateful for assistance rendered by 
the United States and the international community in response 
to the 2004 tsunami, the Yogjakarta earthquake and other 
disasters.  A SOFA could provide a basis for such cooperation 
in the future.  Indonesia had offered a counterproposal to 
the U.S.-proposed text during the Yogjakarta earthquake 
relief effort but Washington had not responded.  Ship visits 
were an additional area GOI was willing to consider, but this 
lay outside humanitarian relief.  The carrying of weapons, 
which had been tolerable during tsunami relief operations in 
Aceh because of the extensive Indonesian military presence 
there, had not been appropriate for Yogjakarta, a seat of 
traditional culture in the heart of Java where no armed 
hostilities were present.  Indonesia could not grant blanket 
permission to carry weapons anywhere in the country. 
Indonesia also did not see the need to include Pentagon 
contractors under the agreement.  The Yogjakarta counteroffer 
remained on the table as a potential starting point for 
negotiations, Hariyadhi said. 
¶6. (C) Purwanto added that the stationing of foreign troops 
on Indonesian soil was incompatible with Indonesia's 
long-standing policy of non-alignment.  He also questioned 
the need for a broader standing arrangement, since 
humanitarian emergencies were only temporary.  Indonesia must 
remain in control of all military operations on its 
territory, he stressed, and the settlement of disputes must 
be consistent with Indonesian law and regulations.  Indonesia 
was trying to open its door to many countries and wanted to 
offer equal terms and conditions to all partners.  The 
legislature would need to be involved in any agreement, which 
must be defensible before Indonesian public sensitivities. 
¶7. (C) Responding to these initial points, Loftis walked 
through the text of the agreement and clarified each 
component in turn.  The United States did not question or 
intend to change Indonesia's nonaligned status, he stressed, 
and the SOFA was not designed to put the United States in 
control of activities:  each event must be approved by the 
GOI and would not occur if the GOI did not concur.  The SOFA 
simply provided standardized rules and procedures for a range 
of military cooperation activities.  The same rules and 
procedures governed all activities, humanitarian assistance 
or otherwise. 
¶8. (C) Discussion of the individual components of the SOFA 
template stressed the following U.S. rationales toward 
allaying GOI concerns: 
-- Administrative and Technical Status:  military personnel 
are deployed abroad at the direction of the government:  they 
have a status different from that of tourists or other 
travelers and are subject to the Uniform Code of Military 
Justice (UCMJ) at all times; because most U.S. military 
personnel do not have passports, we request they be allowed 
to enter the host country with their military identification 
and official orders;   We request that the host government 
recognize  U.S. driving and professional licenses; this eases 
host country customs and regulatory burden; 
-- Criminal jurisdiction:  in order to maintain good order 
and discipline and have the same standards of justice for all 
U.S. military personnel no matter where they are in the 
world, USG seeks to exercise criminal jurisdiction over its 
forces; this reflects USG's responsibility to host 
governments and citizens, as well as to its own personnel; 
jurisdiction does not apply to contractors; a SOFA provides a 
clear, agreed way to handle incidents before the fact rather 
than once an incident has occurred; granting U.S. 
jurisdiction does not imply immunity; 
-- Contractors:  USG relies on contractors to perform many 
support functions; this allows soldiers to focus on military 
duties; contractors are integrated into military deployments; 
SOFA covers contractors only for official activities and not 
for any activities unconnected with activities carried out 
under the agreement; given that contractors can be an 
integral part of U.S. military deployments, U.S. seeks to 
have the same conditions regarding taxation, import/export 
privileges and the same respect for professional and drivers' 
licenses as for U.S. military personnel; 
-- Taxes, tolls, charges and local contracting:  exemption 
from taxes and similar charges is consistent with standard 
international principle that sovereigns do not tax 
sovereigns; troops and contractors have a legitimate need to 
import equipment and supplies; USG will pay reasonable 
charges for services requested and received on terms no less 
favorable than those afforded to the host nation's military; 
USG should not pay for right of use; U.S. military property 
is an extension of USG; where possible, U.S. will hire U.S. 
local contractors if they meet our price and quality 
requirements; however, U.S. must contract in accordance with 
U.S. law; 
-- Telecommunications equipment and frequencies:  is a 
legitimate need during operations; deconflicting is 
advantageous to both sides:  both have mutual interest in 
avoiding interference; only establishes the right to use 
available frequencies; specific frequencies to be agreed for 
each visit; 
-- Claims:  governments normally do not seek damages from the 
¶9. (C) USDEL explained the U.S. considered SOFAs as an 
essential framework document for building a durable and 
stable military-to-military relationship, such as we hoped to 
have with Indonesia.  The host government still decided which 
activities it would undertake with the United States on its 
territory, but the SOFA set the rights and obligations of 
both parties whenever such activities took place.  Long 
experience had shown that having such a "rules of the road" 
agreement in place made such cooperation run more smoothly, 
prevented problems from arising and helped resolve issues 
much easier.  In response to a question, USDEL explained that 
SOFAs were not reciprocal, as they only covered the 
activities of the U.S. military in Indonesia.  USDEL also 
explained that the two sides could develop implementing 
arrangements which laid out specific procedures on such 
matters as import and export, assigning telecommunications 
frequencies and the like.  We preferred not to include them 
in the SOFA itself because any procedural changes would then 
have to be reflected in an amendment. 
¶10. (C) The discussion of the specific components helped 
allay Indonesian concerns.  GOI interlocutors appreciated the 
the explanations presented, though they did not suggest 
agreement.  Hariyadhi in particular indicated willingness to 
pursue all the issues.  Both he and Purwanto, however, 
expressed doubt that the Indonesian legislature would accept 
all SOFA provisions.  The most significant issues which would 
need to be addressed in future discussions appeared to be the 
-- Arms:  DEPLU tended to see this as an infringement of 
Indonesian sovereignty and an indictment of Indonesia's 
ability to protect its "guests."  The optics were problematic 
in view of the media's tendency to seize on it.  (Although 
the Indonesians had almost a visceral reaction against a 
provision allowing carriage of weapons, USDEL believed 
further discussion, including the applicability of 
implementing arrangements, should help overcome this 
-- Criminal jurisdiction:  DEPLU did not make this a major 
issue, but they were categorical in not being prepared to 
concede the point without closer inspection, particularly 
with other agencies.  In a separate discussion at the 
Department of Defense (DEPHAN), BG Dadi Susanto emphasized 
this concern above all others.  He noted that Singapore was 
seeking the same provision in its defense cooperation 
agreement and would not succeed.  Susanto said in practice 
Indonesia would not likely prosecute foreign soldiers but the 
legislature would not accept such a provision in writing. 
-- Purwanto suggested on several occasions that certain 
elements, such as weapons, troop levels and the like, be 
removed from the SOFA and treated in separate agreements or 
handled informally, largely to avoid legislative scrutiny. 
USDEL indicated USG was not interested in pursuing such 
¶11. (C) USDEL proposes to reformat the current diplomatic 
note into a formal bilateral agreement.  This will allow the 
addition of preambular language about basic principles, in an 
effort to satisfy Indonesian concerns on sovereignty and 
nonalignment.  The new text would be recirculated and cleared 
interagency, with the goal of forwarding it to Embassy 
Jakarta for consideration by the GOI before President Bush's 
visit in late November.  Embassy proposes to use the visit to 
obtain President Yudhoyono's public imprimatur on the idea of 
an agreement, to provide momentum for formal negotiations and 
help to overcome bureaucratic resistance. 
¶12. (U) Ambassador Loftis was accompanied by John A. Heffern, 
Charge d'Affaires, Embassy Jakarta; Christopher C. French, 
Deputy Legal Counsel, OJCS; Raul Antonio Francisco Pedrozo, 
Staff Judge Advocate, USPACOM; and by Daniel E. Turnbull, 
Deputy PolCouns, Embassy Jakarta.  Col. Kevin E. Richards, 
Defense Attache, Embassy Jakarta joined USDEL for the meeting 
¶13. (U) This message has been cleared by Ambassador Loftis.