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Subject: LUSA: Resistance criticises Alatas' meeting in Bali
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 16:44:40 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Sharon R.A. Scharfe" <>

16 OUT 98 - 11:37 East Timor/Australia: Resistance movement criticises Ali Alatas meeting in Bali

Sydney, Oct. 16 (Lusa) - East Timorese leaders in Australia criticised on Thursday Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas two-day meeting with about 60 East Timorese representatives in Bali earlier this week.

The representatives of the East Timorese resistance movement complained that they had been informed for the meeting, which began on Thursday, a mere 24 hours in advance. East Timor's highly respected Roman-Catholic Bishop Dom Ximenes Belo declined an invitation to take part in the meeting, saying that it was ''not useful to talk about reforms at a time when military operations are still going on.'' Benidicto de Silva, a member of the East Timorese students Solidarity Council, told the Spanish news agency EFE there could be no reconciliation and dialogue ''as long as the Indonesian military presence in East Timor continues.'' Zacarias da Costa e Milena Pires of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) also criticised the meeting in Bali, pointing out that none of the members of the Timorese National Resistance Council had been invited to the meeting.

The Indonesian authorites have said the meeting was meant to outline a plan to grant a measure of autonomy, but not independence, to East Timor. A government spokesman said earlier this week that 39 East Timorese representatives supporting Indonesian rule and 19 representative who ''want to break away'' had travelled to Bali to take part in the meeting headed by Alatas. The spokesman for the Indonesian government confirmed that the winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, Bishop Belo, would not attend the meeting. Belo is widely regarded as the occupied territory's spiritual leader.

The meeting in Bali took place amid news reports claiming that Indonesian troops members in East Timor had recently been raised following a partial withdrawal earlier this year. There have also a number of reports of armed clashes between Indonesian occupation troops and East Timorese freedom fighters. Ghaffar Fadyl, spokesman for Indonesia's foreign ministry said on Thurday the East Timorese attending the meeting had ''appreciated what Alatas explained to them'' (regarding Indonesia's autonomy proposals for the troubled territory), adding, ''but it is not yet known what their views are on the proposals.''-Lusa nnnn

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