Subject: AAP: Wahid will try to resolve border problems on E. Timor visit

Wahid will try to resolve border problems on E. Timor visit By Karen Polglaze, South East Asia Correspondent

JAKARTA, Feb 26 AAP - Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid will try to resolve border problems with the fledgling nation of East Timor when he visits the former province next week.

Wahid will be the first Indonesian president to visit East Timor since its people voted overwhelmingly to secede from the republic in a United Nations-supervised ballot in August.

There were fears that a bout of influenza suffered by the president late this week might delay the long-expected visit, but Wahid said today he felt great.

Two issues would be priorities for his one-day visit on Tuesday, Wahid told a media conference in Jakarta.

The first, he said, would be for Indonesia to help East Timor in its efforts to "set up a state". The border issue was another priority of the visit, Wahid said.

"The second thing is that we would like to have cooperation at the border so that the Timorese people, as well as our people, can go through the so-called corridors easily," he said.

The border has been the scene of several tense meetings between families now living in different countries. Families in East Timor are urging relatives remaining in the west to come back, but there are still many doubts among the refugees that they will be safe in their former homeland.

Wahid said he would like to help cross-border exchanges, at least for trade between the two countries.

An independent investigation by Indonesia and a second inquiry by the UN found that Indonesian soldiers and police aided pro-Jakarta militias in a rampage that destroyed lives and property across East Timor in the days after the ballot result was announced.

More than 200,000 East Timorese fled or were forcibly removed across the border to West Timor.

About 90,000 refugees remain in Indonesian territory. Indonesia has given them until March 31 to decide whether or not they wish to return to East Timor.

The decision is complicated by the insecure border and by the remnants of the pro-Jakarta militia groups, some of whom rule the refugee camps in West Timor.


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