Subject: AP: Nations Welcome World's Newest State

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Nations Welcome World's Newest State

By EDITH M. LEDERER

UNITED NATIONS, May 21 (AP) - Nations around the globe welcomed the world's newest state, praising the U.N. role in securing sovereignty for East Timor and challenging it to build a prosperous democratic government at peace with its neighbors.

The U.N. Security Council, which usually echoes with speeches about conflicts, sounded joyous Monday as 34 countries celebrated East Timor's first day of independence after centuries of often brutal occupation.

It was also a day of rare praise for the United Nations, which took over the administration of the southeast Asian territory in 1999 after its people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored referendum.

The vote touched off a wave of violence by the Indonesian military and its militia supporters that destroyed much of East Timor.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said the day ``marks a signal success for the United Nations.'' Russia's deputy ambassador Andrey Granovsky said the U.N. effort to transform the country would go down in history ``as a clear example of United Nations success.''

Australia's U.N. Ambassador John Dauth said the U.N. effort in guiding East Timor to independence in 2 1/2 years ``shows what the U.N. and the Security Council are capable of achieving with the right mix of political will and flexible and creative decision-making, on the basis of sustained international support.''

``We all owe it to the people of East Timor and to the United Nations to ensure that the success story continues,'' he said.

In its first act, East Timor's legislature voted to sign the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and join the 189-member United Nations later this year.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said East Timor's speedy action meant it was likely to join before Switzerland, which voted in March to become a U.N. member.

While Asia's newest country is also its poorest, the rest of the world signaled its readiness to support East Timor as it struggles to rebuild its battered economy, boost security and guard against corruption.

``East Timor's evolution over the past 2 1/2 years, from devastation to democracy, has truly been inspiring,'' said Negroponte, who said the United States is committed to supporting the Connecticut-sized country of 800,000 people.

``The most important thing now is to consolidate gains and avoid instability,'' he said.

Negroponte said the United States has given East Timor $180 million in aid, more per capita than any other recipient.

Ambassador Yukio Satoh of Japan, which has given $120 million and pledged another $60 million over three years - urged East Timor's leaders to show ``solidarity'' and ensure nobody is excluded from participation in building the new nation.

Many eyes will be on Indonesia, whose 24-year occupation killed tens of thousands of people through forced migration, starvation and murder.

The Security Council welcomed East Timor's commitment ``to develop close and strong relations with Indonesia'' and Jakarta's statements that it is ready to cooperate ``toward building a peaceful, unified and sustainable society in East Timor.''


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