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Indonesia says serious in pushing Iraq solutions

Wed Nov 22, 4:59 AM ET

Indonesia will push forward the suggestions on how to resolve the crisis in Iraq that its leader presented after meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush earlier this week, a minister said on Wednesday.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in a joint briefing after the November 20 bilateral talks, said achieving national reconciliation, involving a different set of security forces and progress in rebuilding should decide the timetable for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.

Bush, who made no comment on the suggestions at the briefing, has opposed setting a timetable for withdrawal.

"For Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, we cannot just take part in reading about it without doing anything. We cannot lay back. The international community has seen no sign on how to resolve this problem," Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said. "We are not just throwing around concepts. We are active in conducting efforts so that those concepts could be accepted by all parties," he said.

Asked whether Indonesia would contribute soldiers to further efforts in resolving the conflict in Iraq, Wirajuda said: "Try to figure out yourself. How these concepts will be made into operation is still under further exploration."

Jakarta and Washington are in accord on many issues, but some Bush policies, especially in the Middle East, are widely unpopular in the country of 220 million, 85 percent of them Muslims, and Indonesia has consistently criticized the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Many Indonesians are angry over U.S. military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, which they consider attacks on Muslim nations.

Bush faces growing pressure for a change of tack in Iraq with his allies urging him to approach Washington's adversaries Syria and Iran to help stabilize Iraq.

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