Subject: Indonesia, Brazil to form triangle alliance with East Timor

Indonesia, Brazil to form triangle alliance with East Timor

JAKARTA, Jan 23 (AFP) - The presidents of Brazil and Indonesia on Tuesday agreed to set up a triangular alliance with East Timor aimed at speeding up recovery in the former Indonesian territory.

"It seems very important for us that there is a proposal for some kind of a triangle (alliance) between Indonesia, Brazil and East Timor," said visiting Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Cardoso, the first Brazilian president to visit Indonesia since the two countries opened diplomatic ties in 1953, was speaking after talks with President Abdurrahman Wahid at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta.

He said the triangle idea had been "already accepted" by Wahid.

"This is a very clear signal that we are absolutely ready to cooperate in order to give East Timor a better condition, and for the construction of the nation and for reconciliation," Cardoso said.

Commenting on the proposal at a joint press conference, Wahid said he saw the need for the alliance, but gave no details on what it might encompass.

"We discussed that there is a need for a triangle -- an allowable menage a trois -- and I agree with that. Indonesia, Brazil and East Timor will cooperate on how to help East Timor to be a modern society in future," Wahid said.

Prior to his arrival here late Monday, Cardoso stopped over in East Timor where Brazil has a representative office, but he did not say whether he had sounded out, or won approval for, the triangular alliance idea with the territory's future leaders.

East Timor is currently under UN transitional administration.

Brazil hopes to help rebuild the former Indonesian province -- whose people, like Brazilians, speak Portuguese -- especially in the area of education, the Brazilian foreign ministry has said.

East Timor, invaded by Indonesia in 1975, suffered a massive wave of arson, terror and destruction after its residents voted overwhelmingly to quit Indonesia on August 31, 1999, in a United Nations-held referendum.

The terror campaign was launched by pro-Jakarta militias after the results of the ballot were announced, prompting more than 300,000 East Timorese to flee to Indonesian West Timor.

The militia are said to control the West Timor refugee camps, where some 100,000 people remain, and have been accused of harassing refugees and aid workers and intimidating people who want to return to East Timor.

Cardoso also said Jakarta and Brasilia would also seek bilateral "cooperation in the fields of agriculture and defense" in the near future.

He added the fact that he visited Jakarta only three months after Wahid visited Brazil was "a signal for the kind of relationship we would like to have ... and the kind of partnership between Brazil and Indonesia."

An entourage of 80 businessmen accompanying Cardoso were to meet Indonesian counterparts at a seminar organized by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry later on Tuesday.

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