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Subject: RT: Indonesia prepares troop "pull-out"
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998 10:43:29 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <etan@etan.org>

Indonesia prepares troop pull-out from East Timor By Raju Gopalakrishnan

DILI, East Timor, July 27 (Reuters) - Some Indonesian troops posted in East Timor were being moved to the provincial capital Dili on Monday ahead of their withdrawal from the troubled territory in a move Jakarta hopes will signal its desire to settle the area's future.

Military officials told Reuters up to 1,000 combat troops posted in East Timor to uphold Jakarta's rule in the territory it annexed in 1976 will be withdrawn on Tuesday.

Officials and witnesses said truckloads of troops from outlying areas were brought into Dili on Monday. Others were brought in on ferries to the seaside town. The city, however, was peaceful.

The government has planned a ceremonial departure for the troops on Tuesday, when they will be moved by ship to bases on the main Indonesian island of Java.

There have been hectic diplomatic moves over recent weeks on the issue of East Timor since Jakarta offered to give the territory special status in return for international recognition of its sovereignty over the area.

The United Nations, which has sponsored talks between Indonesia and East Timor's former colonial ruler Portugal, will host the foreign ministers of the two countries in New York next week for further discussions on the proposal.

The U.N.'s special envoy on East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, said last week at the end of a visit to Indonesia that he had received signals in Jakarta that demilitarisation of the territory would begin soon.

A troika of European Union ambassadors based in Jakarta who visited East Timor last month said in a report that reducing the troop presence in the territory would be an important confidence-building measure.

``Implementation of the reduction...by the Indonesian government of its military presence in East Timor should be started immediately and in a visible way,'' said the report by the ambassadors of Britain, Austria and the Netherlands.

``In particular, withdrawal of Kopassus (special forces) troops should be a top priority. This should be accompanied by the disbandment and disarmament of local paramilitary organisations.''

Military sources told Reuters some Kopassus troops would be among those pulled out on Tuesday, but they would be accompanied by other units.

Indonesia says it has about 5,000 troops in East Timor but Western diplomats put the number at 10,000-15,000.

``It's very clear that this move (the troop withdrawal) is aimed at the New York meeting of the foreign ministers,'' said one diplomat in Jakarta. ``It's an important confidence-building measure, but much more needs to be done.''

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it a year later in a move not recognised by the United Nations, which still considers Portugal the administering power. At least 200,000 people were killed in the fighting and a subsequent famine.

Human rights groups have accused Indonesian troops of a series of abuses in the territory but Jakarta has said these were isolated incidents and that the culprits have been prosecuted.

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