Asians Gather in Bali for Reagan Talks
Southeast Asian foreign ministers assembled Monday amid tight security for talks with President Reagan on regional security, trade and economic cooperation.
Reagan is to arrive in Bali today for a three-day stay before flying to Tokyo on Friday for the seven-nation economic summit of industrial nations. He is the first American President to visit Southeast Asia in more than a decade.
Philippine Vice President Salvador Laurel, who also serves as foreign minister, told reporters at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport that he hopes to discuss his country’s Communist insurgency and economic difficulties with Reagan and Secretary of State George P. Shultz.
Manila Seeks Help
Laurel said he will seek U.S. help in combatting the insurgency, which has claimed more than 700 lives since Corazon Aquino replaced deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos in February.
It will be Reagan’s first direct meeting with an official of Aquino’s government.
Asked about his reaction to Reagan’s weekend telephone call to Marcos in Hawaii, Laurel said he is “curious to know what they talked about. But I think there’s really nothing wrong with that. I think Mr. Reagan is an old friend of Mr. Marcos.”
The White House has not officially disclosed the details of the phone call.
Laurel also reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the six-nation Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations that will meet with Reagan. The other foreign ministers are Siddhi Savetsila of Thailand, Suppiah Dhanabalan of Singapore, Ahmad Rithauddeen bin Ismael of Malaysia, Mohammed Bolkiah of Brunei and Mochtar Kusumaatmadja of Indonesia.
With the ministers’ arrivals, Bali’s lush tranquility was interrupted by the wails of police sirens as motorcades of VIPs sped along the island’s narrow roads.
One Western tourist taking snapshots of the luxury Nusa Dua Hotel, where Reagan and his entourage will stay, was held briefly by overzealous security guards who confiscated his film.
Police and military security squads drilled amid palm trees and sealed off Bali’s southern Nusa Dua peninsula to unauthorized personnel while two warships patrolled offshore.
About 800 journalists are covering the event.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry said the six foreign ministers will meet today to thrash out united stands on issues to be discussed Thursday in a joint meeting with Reagan.
The ministers will meet individually with Shultz on Wednesday while Reagan and his wife, Nancy, rest after their 15-hour flight from Hawaii.
Meeting With Suharto
Also on Thursday, Reagan will meet with Indonesian President Suharto.
More than 100 members of Congress have urged Reagan to confront Suharto about reports of human rights violations on the island enclave of East Timor, a former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975. Fighting in East Timor continues.
“We continue to be deeply concerned about the human tragedy in East Timor,” the 125 bipartisan House members said in a letter to Reagan released Monday. “Armed conflict in the territory persists, as do reports of atrocities such as disappearances, summary executions, torture and forced birth control.”
However, State Department spokesman Edward P. Djerejian said, “We don’t expect it (human rights issue) to be a major item on the agenda” with Suharto.
No Fixed Agenda
Southeast Asian officials said there will be no fixed agenda for their talks with Reagan. However, several said they want to press for a more active U.S. role in achieving a Cambodian settlement, and they also express concern about falling oil and commodity prices.
They said the organization would like Washington to use its influence with Peking, Moscow and the groups involved in the Cambodian conflict to pave the way for a negotiated settlement. Several guerrilla groups are battling the Vietnamese-installed regime in Cambodia.