Subject: Lusa: Ramos Horta seeks greater engagement by Vatican, Italy

East Timor: Ramos Horta seeks greater engagement by Vatican, Italy - LUSA

28 March 03

By ASP/CJB/SAS

Dili, March 28 (Lusa) - East Timorese Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta was to meet with Italian leaders in Rome Friday in search of aid for development projects, his office announced in Dili. Ramos Horta would be looking especially for help in launching small and medium-sized businesses in talks with his Italian counterpart and with the speaker of Rome's parliament, a foreign ministry communique said.

On Thursday, Ramos Horta met with Cardinal Tourain, the Vatican's chief diplomat, expressing Dili's gratitude for the role of the Timorese Catholic church in gaining independence from Indonesian occupation.

According to the foreign ministry's statement, Ramos Horta told Cardinal Tourain that without the church's "moral and spiritual role" East Timor would not have "achieved its freedom" last year. The foreign minister, the statement added, also pressed Cardinal Tourain for the creation of a third Catholic diocese, the establishment of a Vatican office, or papal nunciature, in Dili, and the opening of a Catholic university.

On departing Rome Friday, Ramos Horta will head to Lisbon for his first official visit to Portugal, East Timor's former colonial ruler, since his country gained independence last May. During his four-day visit, which officially begins Monday, the Nobel Peace laureate will meet with Portugal's senior leadership, including President Jorge Sampaio and Prime Minister José Manuel Durão Barroso. Portuguese investment in East Timor is also on Ramos Horta's agenda, as he meets entrepreneurs in the capital and the northern city of Oporto.

Dili's state secretary for trade and industry, Arlindo Rangel, will also participate in the meetings with potential investors.


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