Subject: Portugal, Indonesia bid to warm relations after E. Timor wrangle

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Agence France Presse July 10, 2003

Portugal, Indonesia bid to warm relations after East Timor wrangle

LISBON - Their differences over the former Portuguese territory of East Timor behind them, Portugal and Indonesia have decided to seek closer cooperation across a range of issues.

"We are catching up on the years when we turned out backs on one another," the Portuguese foreign minister, Antonio Martins da Cruz, said after a meeting late Wednesday with his Indonesian counterpart, Hassan Wirajuda.

"This visit is evidence of the progress of our relationship."

East Timor became independent in May 2002. It was occupied between 1975 and 1999 by Indonesia, after Portugal had abandoned the territory to independence movements while remaining the officially recognized administrator under international law.

Thousands were killed in East Timor in fighting between elements for and against independence, and forces loyal to Indonesia supported by Indonesian troops were accused of widespread crimes against humanity.

About 80 percent of the infrastructure in East Timor, which has about 800,000 inhabitants, was destroyed in the fighting.

Da Cruz praised the progress Indonesia has made in respecting human rights.

He said Indonesia played an important role in guaranteeing regional security and cooperation, and in contributing to prosperity and stability in Timor.

Wijaruda said relations between Indonesia and Portugal had considerably improved in the four years since the two countries restored diplomatic relations.

"This visit gives us an occasion to exchange opinions and increase our cooperation at all levels," he said.


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