Subject: LUSA: Focus on Future, Forget Compensation Claims, Alkatiri Tells Jakarta

East Timor: Focus on Future, Forget Compensation Claims, Alkatiri Tells Jakarta

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri reaffirmed East Timor´s commitment to good relations with Indonesia in remarks published Monday, urging Jakarta to follow Dili´s example in not making claims for compensation from its neighbor. 

"We have forgotten everything" from the past "and Indonesia should also forget", Alkatiri was quoted as saying by Indonesian magazine "Tempo". 

Strong bilateral relations "should begin from ground zero", he said. 

"We didn´t invite anyone here to build these roads and buildings", he said of Jakarta´s insistence on seeking compensation for public and private properties left behind in the newly independent nation. 

Stressing he sought "solid" relations with Jakarta, Alkatiri denied allegations in some quarters that he was "anti-Indonesian", noting that he had "more relatives in Indonesia than in Timor". 

The prime minister comes from a Muslim family, a small minority in predominantly Christian East Timor. 

Underlining the "importance" of "economic cooperation" between the two countries, Alkatiri said that Dili´s agenda for bilateral relations with Jakarta gave priority to the issues of demarcating borders and repatriating refugees remaining in Indonesia. 

President Xanana Gusmao, questioned by Lusa Monday on the issue of compensations, acknowledged it was a "hot subject", one that "could take some time to be overcome". 

He said his upcoming state visit to Indonesia was still being planned and that it would take place either in late June or early July. 

SAS/ASP -Lusa- © 1997 Lusa Comentários e Sugestões para Agência Lusa -- Posted by Eliot Hoffman, East Timor Action Network/US, www.etan.org [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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