Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Indonesians need not worry about the government`s plan to purchase leopard tanks from Germany because the tanks would only be used for defense purposes.

"I can assure you that it will all be done openly and transparently. We will not use the tanks to assault our own people. Our intention is a peaceful one. A country needs a minimum essential deterrent to protect itself from outside threats," he said during a press conference at the Merdeka Palace here on Tuesday evening, after holding a bilateral meeting with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

However, he added, the defense cooperation between Indonesia and Germany was "multidimensional". "Besides joint exercises and visits, it also includes cooperation in the defense industry and purchase of defense equipment that cannot as yet be produced at home," President Yudhoyono said.

"There is no hostility in the ASEAN region, but frankly speaking, in the past 20 years Indonesia has never modernized its weapons. We have been lagging far behind other countries despite Indonesia being a big country and a big economy in Asia," he explained.

"Indonesia and Germany will enhance bilateral defense cooperation as part of the agreement made in the Jakarta Declaration," President Yudhoyono noted.

He said the defense cooperation included military exercises, research and development, natural disaster response exercises, military logistics, military medical training and also peace mission training.

The Indonesian Ministry of Defense had earlier confirmed that it would purchase 100 units of Leopard (main battle tanks) from Germany in order to modernize the Indonesian Army`s weapon system.

"We have decided to purchase the tanks from Germany after receiving confirmation regarding the delivery schedule and the volume we will need," deputy minister of defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin told the press at his office here on Monday.

Sjafrie said Indonesia had cancelled its plan to purchase tanks from the Netherlands and would buy them from Germany.

The government cancelled its plan to buy tanks from the Netherlands because the Dutch government could not guarantee the delivery of tanks within the given deadline.

Sjafrie said the government had allocated US$280 million for the purchase of 100 Leopards from Germany.

"We hope at least 15 units would arrive in Indonesia by October," he added.  (P008/INE/BSR/YH)

Editor: B Kunto Wibisono

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