Cameron to bolster weapons sales to Indonesia

David Cameron	(Reuters / Toru Hanai)
British Prime Minister David Cameron will be seeking to boost weapons sales to Indonesia, which he calls “one of the world’s most important democracies”. This comes just twelve years after Britain imposed an arms embargo on the country.

­“Britain makes some of the best defense equipment in the world, and it is right that it is available to Indonesia under the very same criteria that we apply to all our partners around the world,” Cameron said in an interview with Indonesia’s Kompas newspaper. “That is why some of our leading defense companies are with me on this visit.”

The British leader is set to meet Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday while he visits the country as part of a five-day Asian tour. He is accompanied by some of Britain’s leading weapons manufacturers, eager to secure deals with the Indonesian government.

Last year there were reports that the British government was in talks to sell 24 Eurofighter Typhoons to Indonesia for £2 billion ($3.18 billion). The government denied that negotiations were underway though some ministers did say that they were keen to explore defense projects with Indonesia.

In 1999, Tony Blair’s Labour government banned the export of fighter jets to Indonesia after receiving reports that Indonesia used BAE-built Hawk jets to bomb civilians in East Timor.

Although Cameron claims that Indonesia has transformed itself into a democracy with free press and elections, Human Rights Watch continues to chide the Indonesian government for human rights violations, including “extrajudicial killings and torture in Papua and other areas.”