June 24, 2008
Indonesia, US to start Namru-2 talks
Indonesia and the United States will hold discussions next month on the future of
the US Naval Medical Research Unit 2 (Namru-2), following widespread calls for its
closure, state news agency Antara quoted Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda as saying
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Namru-2 expired in 2005, but it continues
operating. The Health Ministry recently stopped sharing new virus samples with the
Calls for Namru-2 to close have been made since early 2000 by ministers and military
officials. The government submitted a new draft MoU in November last year and the US
has recently responded with its own draft.
At a hearing before the House of Representatives' Commission I, which oversees
defense, information and foreign affairs, Hassan said Washington was slow in
responding to Jakarta's call to conclude negotiations.
Hassan said no deadline for the negotiation to be completed had been set, but
implied it could take a lot of time because of four points of contention in the two
Indonesia insists only the director and deputy director of the lab be granted
diplomatic immunity and privileges, but the U.S. is calling for diplomatic
privileges to be extended to all Americans working at the lab.
"The lab is a research facility, not a diplomatic mission," Hassan said. "We've been
trying to limit such privileges to only the top two American staff at Namru since
The US has insisted the lab falls under the auspices of its embassy, and hence all
of its American staff are entitled to the privileges.
Hassan said the Indonesian Navy had requested to be included in the team supervising
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