Subject: LUSA: No Cuts in Aid, Lisbon Assures Ramos Horta

22 Apr 02 11:28 East Timor: No Cuts in Aid, Lisbon Assures Ramos Horta

East Timor´s interim foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta, says he has gotten guarantees from Portuguese leaders that Lisbon will not reduce aid to Dili despite belt-tightening at home.

Ramos Horta, who is on a visit to Portugal, told Lusa Saturday he had obtained the assurances in separate meetings Friday with President Jorge Sampaio, Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso and Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz.

"Portuguese aid to East Timor will not be reduced", Ramos Horta said, reporting his conversations with the Portuguese leaders.

Lisbon´s new center-right government has made budget cutting a key priority to contain a swelling deficit.

Dili, Ramos Horta said, counted on Portugal for aid especially in the areas of education, health, agriculture, fisheries and professional training.

President Sampaio has described Portugal´s engagement with its former Asian colony as a "solemn commitment".

SAS/ARA -Lusa-

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