Subject: LUSA: Portugal reaffirms aid commitments to FM Ramos Horta

01-04-2003 12:14:00. Notícia nº SIR-4865533

East Timor: Portugal reaffirms aid commitments to FM Ramos Horta

Lisbon, April 1 (Lusa) - Foreign Minister António Martins da Cruz promised continued Portuguese aid to Dili Monday in a meeting with his East Timorese counterpart, José Ramos Horta.

After describing Lisbon's current aid programs in the newly independent nation, Martins da Cruz told a joint news conference that East Timor "must be a preoccupation of all" the international community, despite other pressing problems, like Iraq.

Portugal was calling "the attention of the United Nations" to East Timor, he said, defending a phased withdrawal of UN peacekeepers to assure security in the Asian country.

Ramos Horta, who was beginning a four-day visit to Portugal, said Dili was confident it would not lose international support and aid as a result of the Iraqi conflict.

The two leaders signed a mutual consular support accord and Martins da Cruz said that details of a three-year aid program for 2004-2006 were being ironed out.

He noted that, beyond contributions to the UN peacekeeping force, Lisbon at present was providing 26 aides for Dili ministries and institutions and 145 school teachers, serving 33,000 students.

The creation of a Portuguese-Timorese Chamber of Commerce was underway and Lisbon would continue to aid East Timor's fledgling radio and television broadcasters, Martins da Cruz said.

OL/SAS Lusa

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