USA*ENGAGE Urges Veto of Foreign Operations Bill

Friday, 8 October 1999

"Given the volatile political situation in Indonesia, imposing heavy-handed unilateral sanctions is ill-timed at best. President Clinton should reject the 'feel good' approach, and veto this bill," said Frank Kittredge, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Vice Chairman of USA*ENGAGE. "Harsh economic sanctions on the eve of Indonesia's presidential election will reduce U.S. influence, deepen anti-U.S. sentiments, and could actually promote further hostilities."

The FY 2000 foreign operations appropriations conference report was approved this week by both the House and Senate. The measure directs the U.S. to oppose IMF funding, cuts off USAID funds for democracy building, and could halt bilateral economic aid crucial to maintaining stability -- including Ex-Im Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation programs.

"At this critical juncture, we believe the best approach for the United States would be to seek multilateral methods to engage Indonesia's new leaders in an effort to promote human rights and democracy," Kittredge concluded.

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad.