Indonesian minister: Country supports antiterrorism resolution
SHANGHAI, China (CNN) -- Indonesia will support an antiterrorism resolution expected to be passed by members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Shanghai this weekend, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda said Friday.
Wirayuda denied that Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri had sought a watered-down version of the resolution.
"There's no weakening of our position on that. There have been interpretations following her statement on Monday, that Indonesia has somewhat weakened our position. Not at all," Wirayuda said.
A radical Muslim group in Indonesia, Islamic Defenders Front, wants the Indonesian president to break off diplomatic ties with the United States and kick out people from other countries. If she doesn't, the group has threatened to attack Americans and other "outsiders." The group has held almost daily demonstrations in Indonesia since airstrikes began in Afghanistan on October 7.
On Friday, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Jakarta in the largest anti-U.S. protest in Indonesia since the airstrikes began.
Carrying banners calling Israel and America terrorists, as many as 8,000 protesters marched past the U.S. Embassy and through Jakarta's business district before stopping at the city's central roundabout near the British Embassy.
The demonstration was largely peaceful and organized by the Justice Party, another Islamic group. The Justice Party is made up of many middle-class Indonesian families, including a large number of women.
Megawati, leader of the world's most populous Muslim country, is trying to strike a balance between supporting Indonesia's Western allies and pleasing Indonesia's Muslim groups.
Earlier in the week the Indonesian president stated that there was no excuse for the United States targeting Afghanistan for airstrikes, even in pursuit of terrorists. The Indonesian foreign minister reiterated Jakarta's position, one shared by China, that the U.N. Security Council should approve of all military action in Afghanistan.
Wirayuda spoke to reporters after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Megawati is in Shanghai to attend the APEC summit and is due to meet with President George W. Bush.
Wirayuda said that Powell expressed understanding of Indonesia's delicate position in supporting the airstrikes, given domestic pressure and the anti-U.S. demonstrations in the wake of the airstrikes.
"You should understand, Indonesia being the largest Muslim country, it's a sensitive element there. So it is a position which I think should be understood in context," said Wirayuda. "We are for efforts to punish the perpetrators and those who support it. Yes, we are very concerned about possible and increasing civilian casualties."
-- CNN Correspondent Lisa Rose Weaver contributed to this report.
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