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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08JAKARTA924 2008-05-09 10:33:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta
Cable title:  

NAVAL MEDICAL RESEARCH UNIT -- AMBASSADOR INVITES

Tags:   PREL TBIO PGOV MARR ID 
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FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8962
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2463
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RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 000924 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, G, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, G/AIAG, OES, INR/B
DEPT PLS PASS TO HHS/WSTEIGER/MSTLOUIS, HHS/NIH
SECDEF FOR USDP/ISA/AP P.IPSEN
NSC FOR E.PHU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/09/2018
TAGS: PREL TBIO PGOV MARR ID
SUBJECT: NAVAL MEDICAL RESEARCH UNIT -- AMBASSADOR INVITES
HOUSE SPEAKER TO VISIT

REF: A. JAKARTA 860

B. JAKARTA 854

C. JAKARTA 0806

Classified By: Ambassador Cameron R. Hume, reasons 1.4 (b+d).



1. (C) Ambassador Hume met with Indonesian House Speaker
Agung Laksono on May 7 to invite him and other members of the
legislature to visit the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit
(NAMRU-2) in Jakarta. NAMRU has been the target of a
negative publicity campaign led by Indonesian Health Minister
Supari. Laksono said he considered NAMRU beneficial to
Indonesia and hoped the remaining differences regarding a new
agreement could be resolved soon. He said the DPR was
discussing the issue with relevant GOI agencies but did not
support giving NAMRU's U.S. staff diplomatic immunity. END
SUMMARY.

PART OF PUBLIC OUTREACH CAMPAIGN



2. (U) Ambassador and NAMRU Director Trevor Jones met with
Agung Laksono, Speaker of the Indonesian House of
Representatives (DPR) on May 7 as part of Mission's public
outreach on NAMRU. Mission has in the past two years issued
several written invitations to the DPR, as part of Mission's
strategy to build GOI support for NAMRU's continued operation
in Jakarta. So far the DPR has never followed through on a
visit. For the past two years Mission has been negotiating a
new agreement to provide a firm legal basis for NAMRU's
activities. The issue has become complicated over the past
year by Indonesia's suspension of collaboration with the
international community in the sharing of pathogen samples.
More recently, Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari
has led a public campaign of attacks and misinformation
regarding NAMRU (reftels). Embassy has responded with a
public information campaign to set the record straight and
build public support for NAMRU.



3. (U) Ambassador said the purpose of his call was to extend
an invitation for the Speaker and fellow DPR members to visit
NAMRU. He explained that NAMRU was housed in a building of
the Department of Health, had been in operation in Indonesia
since 1970 and was staffed mostly by Indonesians. NAMRU was
open to GOI officials at any time, he stressed, and security
checks were simply a routine precaution common at buildings
throughout the city. Embassy Jakarta had received
Washington's approval to resume negotiations on the basis of
a revised text. NAMRU's main function was to analyze disease
outbreaks. It did not remove anything from Indonesia, but
only sent samples out of the country for testing as the
request of the Department of Health.

LAKSONO VOICES SUPPORT BUT OPPOSES DIPLOMATIC STATUS



4. (C) Laksono noted that the public discussion of NAMRU had
now been going on for the better part of a year, especially
within the health community. The DPR's Commission I,
responsible for foreign and defense issues, had discussed the
issue with the Department of Foreign Affairs. The
Commission's view was that, if NAMRU was beneficial to
Indonesia and to its bilateral relationship with the United
States, then it could continue to operate in Indonesia. If
not, its operations would have to end. It was necessary for
the DPR to convince government agencies of the benefits.
Laksono said he had read the reports of NAMRU's activities
and believed NAMRU had a positive role, in terms of
Indonesian public health, the bilateral relationship and the
benefits to Indonesian scientific researcher community
working in and with the lab.



5. (C) That said, Laksono emphasized, Commission I had
recommended that if NAMRU were to continue operation in
Indonesia it would have to do so under certain conditions.
These were that 1) NAMRU must be transparent and accessible,
2) it should find a way to cooperate with the Indonesian

JAKARTA 00000924 002 OF 002


Navy, which operated mobile medical facilities and 3) U.S.
nationals employed at NAMRU should not have diplomatic
immunity.



6. (U) Ambassador said he agreed that NAMRU was mutually
beneficial and should continue in operation. Infectious
diseases must be tracked so that there could be a timely
response to their evolution and outbreak. Other similar
research facilities and international agencies participated
in this international effort and were constantly looking for
ways to improve cooperation.

DIRECTOR STRESSES OPENNESS, SERVICE TO INDONESIA



7. (U) NAMRU Director Jones emphasized that NAMRU appreciated
being able to work in Indonesia and valued its collaboration
with the Indonesian government and scientific community. The
ratio of Indonesian to U.S. staff was roughly 8:1. NAMRU
trained approximately 35 Indonesian university students per
year, and some graduate students worked in the lab as part of
their study. NAMRU wanted to be open, wanted more visits by
GOI officials and would be pleased to host a delegation of
DPR members or staff. NAMRU had nothing to hide and much to
share. Visits would help to build confidence.

DPR PLANS HEARINGS ON MINISTER'S ALLEGATIONS



8. (C) Laksono thanked the Ambassador for his letter of
invitation to visit NAMRU. He expressed the hope that the
remaining issues could be resolved soon and said the DPR's
Commission 8, responsible for health matters, would ask the
Department of Health for clarification of the issues that
Minister Supari had raised.
HUME