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Tuesday, 13 May 2003
Page: 14154

Mr Rudd asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 4 February 2003:

(1) Did the Defence Minister suggest that Australian SAS forces could work with Indonesian Kopassus forces.

(2) Since then, has Indonesia on a number of occasions ruled out the possibility of such cooperation, including comments by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry that Indonesia would not accept the presence of foreign military on its soil and the Indonesian Chargé d'Affaires' statement that it is not possible.

(3) During Senate Estimates, did the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advise of reported links between the Islamic terrorist organisation Laskar Jihad and Kopassus.

(4) How can the Government still be considering joint Kopassus/SAS operations in Indonesia when the Government of Indonesia is demonstrably opposed to such a proposal.

Mr Howard (Prime Minister) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Senator Hill has said publicly that the government was considering the possibility of cooperation with Kopassus in the counter-terrorism context. The Defence Update 2003 also notes on pages 19-20 that the Government is “considering limited cooperation with the Indonesian military forces on hostage recovery and hijack resolution - an area where, in an environment of heightened terrorist threat, Australian lives could rest on effective Indonesian capabilities and cooperation between the two defence forces.”

(2) The Indonesian government has not made any official representations opposing cooperation with Kopassus on hijack recovery and hostage resolution issues.

(3) I am advised that Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials said on 22 November that there are some indications that some elements of TNI may have links with Laskar Jihad.

(4) See (2) above.