Subject: LUSA: Cardoso to Raise Subject of Refugees During Talks with Wahid

East Timor: Cardoso to Raise Subject of Refugees During Talks with Wahid 22 Jan-20:44

Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso said Monday he would discuss the subject of East Timorese refugees in West Timor when he meets in Jakarta with Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid.

"I will speak of our concern about the security of refugees and also the action of militia forces on the border, which we do not think helps construct a comprehensive peace", Cardoso told media in Dili, during a seven-hour visit to East Timor. He departed in the early evening, bound for Jakarta, where he is to meet with Wahid on Tuesday morning before beginning the return trip to Brazil.

In Dili, Cardoso attended a special session of the National Council, where he reiterated his mission to "bring a message of solidarity to the East Timorese".

"In a country the size of Brazil, it is rare for events abroad to capture the people's imagination. The East Timorese struggle for freedom nevertheless vividly marked Brazilian public opinion", he said.

In his speech before the Council, East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao thanked Brazil for its continuing support, and highlighted the excellent rapport between Brazilian UN peacekeepers stationed in the territory and the local population.

Gusmao urged such support to continue beyond East Timor's independence, likely by the end of the year. He also reiterated the importance of cooperation in the area of education, with special focus on the Portuguese language shared by both countries.

Earlier Monday, Cardoso said Brazil was ready to do "everything possible" to aid East Timor's transition to independence, adding that Brasilia was prepared to broaden its current aid efforts, which are centered in the areas of education and peacekeeping. Programs were under study, he said, to help East Timor in the agriculture and oil exploration sectors.

The 70-strong Brazilian military police contingent in the UN peacekeeping force might also be reinforced with the addition of a field hospital unit, Cardoso told journalists after meetings with Timorese political and religious leaders and the UN transition administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian.

"Brazil is decided to aid Timor in everything that is possible in a spirit of recognition and solidarity with those who lie here", Cardoso said during a visit to Dili's Santa Cruz cemetery, the scene of a bloody 1991 massacre of independence supporters by Indonesian troops.

Accompanied by independence leader Xanana Gusmao and Dili's Catholic bishop, Carlos Ximenes Belo, Cardoso placed a floral wreath at a simple monument to the massacre victims.

He also praised the work carried out by Vieira de Mello's UNTAET administration.

"We have the satisfaction of seeing that East Timor begins to have hope in the action of UNTAET, under the leadership of Sergio Vieira de Mello, and of many people who are here in solidarity with Timor, ready to help the people recover", he said.

Vieira de Mello had recently told Lusa that Cardoso had the influence and political authority to intercede with Jakarta on matters concerning relations between Indonesia and Jakarta, and the question of refugees in the Indonesian half of Timor island. "Perhaps the president has a great advantage over other presidents and political figures who have visited us. Brazil and Indonesia have a long tradition of diplomatic, political and economic cooperation", Vieira de Mello said.

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