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Subject: RT: Indonesia sees new diplomatic ties with Portugal
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 1998 17:59:32 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

[Obviously written prior to the suspension of the UN Talks. John]

Indonesia sees new diplomatic ties with Portugal 08:10 a.m. Nov 20, 1998 Eastern

JAKARTA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Indonesian President B.J. Habibie said on Friday he expected Portugal and Indonesia to eventually resume diplomatic relations after a ``friendship'' visit by Lisbon mayor Joao Soares.

``Relations between Lisbon and Jakarta are expected to become the starting point for resuming diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Portugal,'' Jakarta governor Sutiyoso quoted Habibie as telling Soares.

Sutiyoso told reporters Indonesia admitted the sticking point in closer ties was the disputed province of East Timor, a former Portuguese territory invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed a year later.

Sutiyoso gave no details about when Habibie expected a resumption in diplomatic relations, suspended because of Indonesia's takeover of East Timor.

Earlier on Friday, Soares urged the immediate release from jail of Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao.

``I demand immediate and unconditional release of Xanana Gusmao,'' Soares told reporters after separate talks with Sutiyoso

Soares is on an informal visit to establish ``friendship links'' between Lisbon and Jakarta.

Indonesia and Portugal, which have often clashed over East Timor, do not have formal diplomatic relations.

Indonesia's rule of East Timor is not recognised by the United Nations, which still regards Portugal as the administering power.

Jakarta maintains a heavy military presence in the territory to combat a low-level rebellion. The armed forces have been widely accused of human rights abuses in East Timor since the invasion.

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