WASHINGTON – Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Wednesday assured President Bush that her predominantly Muslim nation opposes the terrorist attacks that took place in the United States last week. "We share this moment of grief with you," she said.
Bush, in the midst of seeking world support for an anti-terrorism campaign, met in the Oval Office with Megawati, the first leader from a Muslim state to meet with him since the twin terrorist attacks in which thousands of people perished. He had been expected to press Megawati to crack down on Islamic hardliners within Indonesia, but Megawati did not say she promised that.
"Indonesia has always been against violence," Megawati said. "Anything that relates to violence, including acts of terrorism, we will definitely be against it."
She sought to temper her vice president's statement that the terrorist hijackings "will cleanse the sins of the United States," saying her comments, and her letter to Bush decrying the "very inhumane" attacks, reflected the official Indonesian government position.
Bush told Megawati her condemnations "meant a lot to us," and rejected the notion that the anti-terrorism campaign he is organizing would also be anti-Muslim in tone.
"The war against terrorism is not against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs," Bush said. "It's a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people."
The two leaders issued two statements, one specifically addressing terrorism and the other dealing with issues ranging from the situation in East Timor, civil conflicts in Aceh and Irian Jaya and reform of Indonesia's judicial system.
Bush said he would ask Congress to provide $130 million in assistance for Indonesia in fiscal 2002, mainly to help with the judicial overhaul, and $10 million for police training. He said he supports Megawati's planned economic reforms, including privatization of banks, and announced a $400 million economic development initiative by the Export/Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
Their statements also said Megawati "pledged solidarity with the United States in this hour of grief," noting that an Indonesian citizen perished in the attacks. They stressed the need to separate the Muslim faith from the actions of terrorists, with Megawati asking that Bush consider "the views of the Muslim world" as he plans the U.S. response.
"She underscored that terrorism also increasingly threatens Indonesia's democracy and national security," the statement said. She and Bush also pledged cooperation on transnational crimes such as piracy, organized crime, human and narcotics trafficking, and arms smuggling.