Subject: UN says East Timor can serve as Afghanistan model

UN says East Timor can serve as Afghanistan model

OSLO, Dec 11 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged donors on Tuesday to aid East Timor for years after independence next May in what the United Nations says may be a tiny model for rebuilding shattered Afghanistan.

Annan, opening a 23-nation donors' conference in Oslo, said East Timor needed to combat poverty and encourage refugees to return after militias supported by Indonesia went on a killing spree when the territory voted for independence in 1999.

Up to 300,000 East Timorese, more than a quarter of the territory's population, fled 1999 violence in which the United Nations estimated that more than 1,000 people died. About 80,000 refugees are still in camps in neighbouring West Timor.

The U.N. administrator for East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, said the U.N.'s work to rebuild the tiny territory could be a model for a new interim administration due to take over in Afghanistan on December 22.

"There are similarities in what we found in East Timor in November 1999 and what the new interim administration in Kabul will have to deal with," he told a news conference.

"The experiences we had, the mistakes we made, can be learnt Afghanistan," he said, adding he had discussed problems faced by Kabul with Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. envoy to Afghanistan. World Bank President James Wolfensohn also said East Timor could be a model.

In East Timor, occupied by Indonesia in 1975, the United Nations has had to build state institutions from scratch and recruit a new defence force from disbanded guerrillas. The United Nations has thousands of peacekeepers in the former Indonesian territory.


"East Timor will need donors to stay for the long haul," Annan said a day after receiving the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo along with the United Nations.

"Much remains to be done," he added. The United Nations and the World Bank, hosting the two-day conference with Norway, estimate East Timor will need $305-$354 million over the next three years.

"It's too early to say" what will be needed after that, Wolfensohn said. East Timor hopes quickly to earn cash from oil and gas and coffee exports.

Jose Ramos Horta, East Timor's de facto foreign minister and a joint winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, hailed the sentencing by an East Timor court of 10 pro-Jakarta militia men to long jail terms on Tuesday for killing independence supporters in 1999.

"It's absolutely fair and it shows that the serious crimes panel is working effectively," he said. They were the first convictions for the bloodshed that marred the independence vote.

The anti-independence militia got active backing and encouragement from the Indonesian military. So far Jakarta has not prosecuted anyone for crimes there.

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