Subject: AP: Britain's foreign secretary meets with president of East Timor

Also: Britain pledges continued support to East Timor

Britain's foreign secretary meets with president of East Timor

October 15, 2003 11:51am Associated Press WorldStream

LONDON (AP) ­ Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Wednesday told President Alexandre Jose ``Xanana' Gusmao of East Timor that Britain would continue to help the country become a stable, democratic nation.

Following a meeting in London, Straw said Gusmao had played a pivotal role in East Timor's struggle for independence and in ensuring a better future for its people.

``The British government, with our partners in the international community, will continue to do all we can to assist Timor-Leste with its transition into a stable, prosperous and democratic nation,' said Straw.

East Timor won its independence in May 2002 after four centuries of Portuguese colonial rule and 24 years of often brutal Indonesian occupation.

Straw said Britain had never recognized Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor and had provided ``moral and material support' to U.N. missions operating in the country.

It was Gusmao's first visit to Britain as president.

He met with Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday and was awarded with an honorary knighthood.

The Foreign Office said Britain continued to play a leading role in rebuilding East Timor, and has pledged 12 million pounds (US$20 million) from 2002-05.

(ej-rb)

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Britain pledges continued support to East Timor

October 15, 2003 12:43pm Xinhua

LONDON, Oct 15, 2003 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Britain voiced Wednesday its willingness to continue its efforts to assist East Timor with its transition to a stable country.

"The British government, with our partners in the international community, will continue to do all we can to assist Timor-Leste with its transition into a stable, prosperous and democratic nation," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said after his meeting with visiting East Timor President Xanana Gusmao.

"The UK has been a long term supporter of the East Timorese people. The British government never recognized Indonesian sovereignty over Timor Leste and we played a key role in the UN Security Council during 1999 in helping Timor Leste achieve its independence. Since then, the UK has provided moral and material support to the numerous UN missions which have operated so successfully in Timor Leste," Straw said in a statement.

"I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet President Xanana Gusmao who has played such a pivotal role, not only in his country's struggle for independence, but also in promoting post- conflict reconciliation and a better future for his people," Straw added.

According to the British Foreign Office, the British government has played a leading role in rebuilding East Timor, for which Britain has pledged about 12 million pounds (about 19.2 million US dollars) from 2002 to 2005.


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