Subject: LUSA: Alkatiri Raises Possibility of Commonwealth Membership

06 Nov 01 21:14 East Timor: Alkatiri Raises Possibility of Commonwealth Membership

East Timor`s Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri acknowledged Tuesday that his country could join the Commonwealth, at the same time as being a member of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP).

The Timorese leader was speaking in Maputo after talks with Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano on bilateral cooperation and the independence process in East Timor.

"I have said (to Australian leaders) that there is a Portuguese-speaking country in the Commonwealth, which is Mozambique. Why doesn't a second (Lusophone) country, which could be East Timor, become a member of the Commonwealth without leaving the CPLP?", asked Alkatiri.

Timor`s head of government added that he had "sometimes seriously and sometimes in jest" said to leaders of neighboring Australia that there is no contradiction in being a Lusophone country while also being a Commonwealth member.

President Chissano stated that this would be a "good triangulation" in the support of East Timor as Mozambique had good relations with Australia and would ask it to "enter this challenge".

CJB -Lusa-

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