Subject: USDOS: Roth on Australia Policy & E Timor
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 13:19:36 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING

USIA FOREIGN PRESS CENTER BRIEFING

U.S. RELATIONS WITH EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC RIM NATIONS

STANLEY ROTH, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS

Q Joan Grey (sp) from the Australian Financial Review. The Australian government recently changed its policy towards East Timor and is now supporting self-determination. I wonder if you can give a response to that and tell me whether you think that self-determination in East Timor is inevitable.

MR. ROTH: Well, I think the Australian decision as I understand it is far more nuanced than you just described it, that it's a phased decision that says that after a considerable period of time in which there's been autonomy, which is not defined, I believe, that then, you know, there should be some act of self-determination in the meantime in respect to the territorial integrity of Indonesia. So it's a rather complex package of issues and I think not subject to simple resolution.

From the American perspective, I believe that we're giving our emphasis right now to supporting the U.N.-sponsored negotiations under Ambassador Marker, who is, of course, Kofi Annan's representative. I think that, you know, what we want to do is not crowd the playing field with multiple proposals from lots of different players about what should be done, but let the parties themselves try to reach an agreement on what's acceptable to them. And I think that any outcome acceptable to them will be acceptable to us.

And so at this point, you know, we're putting our stock in that negotiating process. And let's see if Ambassador Marker can reach an agreement at some point in 1999.

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