Subject: RT: Annan Says Xanana must be freed
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 1998 09:20:33 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Annan says jailed Timor guerrilla must be freed 12:54 p.m. Aug 10, 1998 Eastern [abridged]
LISBON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Indonesia on Monday to free jailed East Timorese guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao ``sooner rather than later'' to let him play a full role in the debate on the territory's future.
Annan told a news conference that last week's accord between Portugal and Indonesia to pursue talks on a proposal for autonomy opened ``a new chapter'' in the dispute over East Timor.
The Pacific territory was abandoned [sic] by Portugal in 1974 and later annexed by Indonesia, a move which the United Nations has never recognised.
The agreement in New York to pursue the Indonesian proposal for sweeping autonomy broke a deadlock stretching back to 1983 when Portugal and Indonesia first met to discuss the future of the mainly Roman Catholic territory.
Annan said Indonesian President Jusuf Habibie had promised him that more political prisoners would soon be released, although it was unlikely that Gusmao would be among them.
Annan said that it was important that Indonesia had recognised that Gusmao, jailed for 20 years in 1992, had to be freed before negotiations on Timor could be completed.
``He may be the last to be released, but what is important is that they (the Indonesians) are not rejecting the idea that he has to be released,'' he said.
``He has a role to play and one can even now talk to him about the discussions,'' he said, referring to Indonesian promises to allow greater access to the jailed guerrilla.