Subject: RT/AP: On UN talks
Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998 16:44:10 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Indonesia, Portugal agree on East Timor package
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Indonesia and Portugal agreed on Wednesday to hold in-depth discussions on Indonesia's proposals for a ``special status, based on a wide-ranging autonomy'' for East Timor, according to a communique issued after two days of talks.
The two foreign ministers, Ali Alatas and Jaime Gama, also agreed to establish interests sections in each other's capitals by the end of this year, as part of a package relating to their long-standing differences over East Timor.
The international community has never recognized Indonesia's December 1975 invasion of East Timor, an abandoned Portuguese colony, nor its annexation the following year as Indonesia's 27th province.
U.N.-sponsored talks aimed at finding an acceptable solution have dragged on sporadically since 1983. A new opportunity appeared to open up when economic and political turmoil in Indonesia in May ended three decades of rule by President Suharto and he was replaced by President B.J. Habibie.
The talks on autonomy, ``without prejudice to their basic positions of principle,'' will be held by senior officials on the two sides, who will report to a ministerial meeting at an early date with the hope that ``an agreement could be reached on this issue before the end of the year.''
Indonesia and Portugal have had no diplomatic relations since Indonesia's takeover of East Timor and the establishment of interests sections, in the embassies of friendly countries, is a first step towards re-establishing diplomatic ties.
Wednesday August 5 4:29 PM EDT East Timor Autonomy Talks Slated
RON KAMPEAS Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Portugal and Indonesia have agreed to discuss granting limited autonomy to the troubled province of East Timor, their foreign ministers said Wednesday.
They also agreed to further involve East Timor activists in the talks, the ministers said after two days of negotiations brokered by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Portugal, the province's colonial master until 1975, previously backed nothing short of self-determination for East Timor.
Indonesia had insisted it should be responsible for getting East Timorese input on the talks and choosing which East Timorese activists to consult.
But Wednesday's agreement assigned that task to Annan, who said he would seek input from East Timorese leaders including Jose Ramos Horta, a leading independence activist and co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize.
Speaking in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, Horta urged Annan Wednesday to involve rebel leader Xanana Gusmao in any attempt to resolve East Timor's future. Gusmao is jailed in an Indonesian prison.
Annan described the deal as ``progress,'' but said it was not a major breakthrough.
``We have moved from principled positions to common ground,'' said Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama. The agreement calls for a solution by the end of this year.
No mention was made of East Timorese demands for a referendum on independence among the province's 800,000 people - a proposal previously backed by Portugal.
Indonesian President B.J. Habibie had promised democratic reforms and greater flexibility on East Timor, a territory about 1,200 miles east of Jakarta.
About 600 soldiers will leave East Timor on Saturday, completing a withdrawal of 1,000 troops, the Indonesian military said Wednesday.