Subject: E. Timor wants less military at Indonesia border

Also: RI and East Timor officials discuss demarcation lines

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

East Timor wants less military at Indonesia border

JAKARTA, Oct. 7 (Reuters) - East Timor said on Monday it wants its land border with Indonesia to be gradually de-militarised and hopes all frontier disputes with its former ruler can be solved by next year.

The tiny territory voted overwhelmingly to split from Jakarta's rule in 1997 but the vote unleashed an orgy of killing by pro-Indonesia militia gangs, some of whom still exist in the border areas.

After the vote the militia herded around 300,000 people across the border into Indonesian West Timor and although most of these have now returned, security is tight on both sides of the frontier.

"The East Timorese government attaches great importance to continuing the process of border demarcation. I would like to suggest that we agree on a line that constitutes the border by mid-next year," Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta said at the opening session of a two-day meeting with Indonesian officials.

"It's the common vision of President Xanana Gusmao and our government that our relations develop in such a way that we can come to a gradual downsizing of the military on both sides of our border," the minister said, in discussions that will also focus on trade and other issues.

Besides the militia threat along the 50 km land border, some East Timorese still stay in the few remaining refugee camps in West Timor due to fear of retaliation back home because of their past links with Jakarta.

East Timor, a former Portugese colony, formally celebrated its independence on May 20 and was accepted as the 191st member of the United Nations ( news - web sites) late last month.

The United Nations, which ran the territory after the 1997 vote and until formal independence, estimates around 1,000 people were killed in the mayhem surrounding the independence ballot.

Although the United Nations has now transferred power to the new government, led by independence hero Gusmao, a peacekeeping mission remains there as the country grooms its new leaders.

The half-island nation of 760,000 people is Asia's most impoverished and the 20th poorest in the world.

During his opening remarks Horta also said East Timor sought a free trade area uniting its people in the east and the Indonesians on the west side of Timor island, which lies 2,000 km east of Jakarta.


The Jakarta Post

October 8, 2002

RI and East Timor officials discuss demarcation lines

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia and East Timor agreed on the first day of a joint commission meeting on Monday to determine precise borders between the two neighbors and other residual issues following Indonesia's 24-year occupation which ended in 1999.

The two-day meeting, led by respective foreign affairs ministers, were set to discuss a time frame to establish the lines, which will be used to mark clear borders.

"We have completed a joint air surveillance to determine the demarcation lines and expect to place marks on the land borders of the two countries as soon as possible," Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said after talks with his East Timor counterpart Jose Ramos Horta.

Hassan further said that the technicalities of the agreement, including the time frame, would be discussed at the end of the meeting on Tuesday. Currently, the two countries are separated by temporary demarcation lines.

On the border issue, the two countries also discussed the arrangement for people's movement along the borders as people from East Timor and neighboring East Nusa Tenggara were traditionally related, Hassan said.

East Timor, meanwhile, proposed a gradual reduction in the number of troops on both sides of its borders.

"It is the common vision of (East Timor's) President Xanana Gusmao and our government that our relations develop in such a way that we can come to a gradual downsizing of the military on both sides of our border," Horta said. On the meeting, Hassan said that Jakarta proposed a settlement to end the assets issue by turning Indonesia's assets in the former province into equity to start joint venture companies.

"We are proposing to establish joint venture companies with those assets. We believe this is an innovative proposal to end the disputes on assets," Hassan remarked.

However, he has yet to provide further details regarding the joint venture proposal saying that it has to be further discussed between the two countries.

The former province separated from Indonesia, following the United Nations (UN) popular consultation in 1999, which resulted in East Timor's independence.

The partition has left several problems, including refugees, pension funds for East Timorese civil servants and soldiers under Indonesian administration as well as contentious issues on borders and assets.

On state assets, Hassan said that Indonesia proposed a settlement that could benefit both sides as Jakarta had built infrastructure such as water pipes, electricity, oil and gas installations in the territory, which then president Soeharto claimed as the country's 27th province in 1976.

"We are thinking about, for example, using the building of former state-owned Bank Mandiri in Dili as a place to set up a joint venture bank," Hassan said.

Another point of contention, the minister said, was the arrangement to settle personal assets as the two countries had yet to find a solution.

The joint commission was to be established earlier this year, when a group of Indonesian ministers visited Dili, after the country celebrated its independence day on May 20.

Hassan said sea boundaries would be another sensitive issue as it related to the oil-rich Timor gap, and Jakarta would seek to ensure that any possible exploration in the area would not trespass into Indonesian waters.


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