Subject: AFP: Albright calls developments on Timor 'hopeful'
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 21:38:39 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

- Albright's visit to Jakarta aimed at shoring up relations with Indonesia

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (AFP) - Indonesia's offer of autonomy or independence for East Timor is "very hopeful," Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Wednesday, days before she was to visit Jakarta.

"The East Timor developments are truly fascinating and, I think, are very hopeful," Albright told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"We are supporting the UN action there and the UN special representative there is looking at a variety of ways for us to be able to help move that forward," she added.

"We clearly do see what's happening there as an opportunity to deal with one of the most troublesome issues that's been out there for all of us," she said.

Indonesian officials, who will soon hold democratic elections for the first time since President Suharto stepped down last year, "have undertaken some significant reforms, not enough, but they have."

Jakarta last month said it could let go of East Timor if the population there rejected broad autonomy under Indonesian rule.

An autonomy package is being finalized in talks between Indonesia and Portugal under the auspices of the United Nations.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year, although the United Nations never recognized the move.


Albright's visit to Jakarta aimed at shoring up relations with Indonesia

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (AFP) - US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright travels to Asia next week in a bid to ease tension with China and encourage Indonesia's transition to a genuine democracy.

She travels to Jakarta early next Thursday for two days of meetings with officials and opposition leaders aimed at encouraging the world's largest Moslem country in its transition from authoritarian to democratic rule.

"Indonesia is another one of the countries that I have targeted for trying to move it over the line," Albright told senators Wednesday, apparently referring to its democratic transition.

"They are going to have elections. They have undertaken some significant reforms, not enough, but they have," she said, adding that Jakarta's offer of independence or autonomy to East Timor was "truly fascinating and ... very hopeful."

After more than three decades under President Suharto -- when election outcomes were never surprising -- Indonesians will go to the polls in June to elect a new legislature and in November to elect a new president.

The government of Suharto's successor last month said it could let go of East Timor if the population there rejected broad autonomy under Indonesian rule.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year, although the United Nations never recognized the move.

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