HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Health Minister Supari on Monday of this week, and based on today's statement, I think it's fair to assume little progress was made.
Both sides have reportedly agreed to work together to find a solution, but Leavitt has put a time limit on these negotiations; two months. After that, if no progress is made, the US will `move on and concentrate its efforts elsewhere'.
Exactly what that means in real terms, isn't clear to this writer. It does sound like an ultimatum, however.
In Diplo-Speak, the Secretary is playing hard-ball, and after more than a year of excuses, stalling, and broken promises by the Indonesian government, it is certainly understandable.
The Indonesian's concerns are not without merit, but any semblance of legitimacy is lost when they stoop to extortion, and in doing so put the world at risk, in order to get their way.
This from the Canadian Press.
Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | 6:25 AM ET
Canadian Press: Margie Mason, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HANOI, Vietnam - The world is less safe because Indonesia is withholding samples of the bird flu virus from the international community, the top U.S. health official said Wednesday, adding that he is hopeful the issue can be resolved soon.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt told The Associated Press that Indonesia's refusal to co-operate with the World Health Organization's long-standing virus-sharing system without compensation is disappointing.
"If Indonesia decides to not be part of the world community and the international mainstream on this for a time, that would be regrettable," he said. "The world will be slightly less safe, but at some point we have to move onto finding other ways to make the world safe."
Leavitt, on a Southeast Asian trip this week to promote food safety, met with Indonesia's president and health minister in Jakarta before making stops in Singapore and Vietnam. Indonesia has withheld nearly all of its bird flu samples from WHO since January 2007, arguing that poor countries should retain the rights to any vaccines made from their viruses.
Leavitt said both sides agreed to work toward finding a solution within the next two months. Otherwise, the U.S. will move on and concentrate its efforts elsewhere, he said.