Clinton Urges Indonesia to Improve Human Rights Record

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton pressed Indonesia on Wednesday to clean up its human rights record but did not set deadlines or demand remedies.

Fresh from an economic conference in Jakarta with leaders of 17 other Pacific Rim nations, Clinton said his administration would pursue improved human rights "with conviction and without apology."

But while he and his officials urged better treatment of ethnic minorities, journalists and labor activists, the Americans largely left it to the Indonesians to find their way to such a goal.

The softer approach appeared to reflect the Clinton administration's determination to assign a high priority to trade deals while avoiding costly clashes over human rights. In May, Clinton decided to drop linkage between trade benefits and human rights in China.

But under renewed pressure from advocacy groups and Congress, Clinton laid out his human rights goals in a meeting Wednesday with Indonesian President Suharto at his palace, Merdeka.

Human rights cast a shadow over the economic conference because of violent demonstrations in the disputed territory of East Timor and a five-day sit-in by Timorese students at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. Clinton raised the Timor issue with his Indonesian hosts and failed to win any agreements to end the embassy protest. But Suharto said his government would not punish the students. …