Subject: LUSA: Gusmao Proposes Three-way Meet with Wahid and Megawati

East Timor: Gusmao Proposes Three-way Meet with Wahid and Megawati 18 Apr-20:39

East Timorese independence Xanana Gusmao has written to the Indonesian president and vice president, respectively Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri, suggesting that the three hold a joint meeting to discuss future relations between Indonesia and East Timor.

Gusmao was interview[e]d Wednesday by Lusa in Bali, during a stopover on his way to Jakarta. "I will also use the occasion (of the trip) to invite Megawati to visit East Timor", he said, adding that this request and the proposed meeting were not linked to reports of the imminent downfall of Wahid, who has "already visited" the territory.

He said he was not concerned about Megawati eventually becoming president, despite her public opposition to East Timorese statehood before the territory's 1999 independence plebiscite.

Political chaos and the ongoing transition process in Indonesia should not have a "drastic impact" on East Timor, despite concerns that it "may affect" the situation of the nearly 100,000 East Timorese refugees still in Indonesian West Timor, Gusmao said. Some of the militias that have harassed refugees there "were not East Timorese", he specified.

The East Timorese leader spoke to Lusa in Denpasar, on the Indonesian island of Bali. On Thursday and Friday he will take part in a Jakarta conference on the Indonesian political transition. The conference, focusing on Indonesia's post-crisis prospects, will be opened by Wahid and closed by Megawati.

Queried on the message he would deliver to participants, Gusmao said he would stress that "East Timor wants to live in peace" and that its "future is membership in ASEAN" (the Association of South East Asian Nations).

Xanana Gusmao heads the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), the umbrella leadership body in East Timor. Last month he stepped down from the chairmanship of the territory's National Council (interim legislature), due to disagreements over the course of the transition process.

East Timor, which had been occupied by Indonesia for 24 years, voted for independence in a 1999 plebiscite. It has since been governed by a UN transition administration charged with preparing the territory for independent statehood, likely within the next year.

JBC -Lusa

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