Subject: Lusa: Poverty could breed violence, warns President

Also: Gusmão sees international 'dialogue' with terror groups as positive

East Timor: Poverty could breed violence, warns President Gusmão

Viseu, Portugal, April 21 (Lusa) - Economic difficulties in the world's newest nation, East Timor, are a potential source of violence, President Xanana Gusmão has warned.

"Difficulties and discomfort" are faced by many Timorese, due to sluggish economic growth, and the country`s young people are disillusioned due to high unemployment, Gusmão told reporters Tuesday on the margins of a conference on the Portuguese language.

"We are aware of all this, but we cannot impose stability only through law. We have to do it through more participation of sections of society that could resort to violence".

Gusmão, who began a week-long visit to Portugal on Monday, downplayed the threat of outbreaks of violence in his country, noting the phenomenon was universal.

AMF/CJB Lusa

East Timor: Gusmão sees international 'dialogue' with terror groups as positive

Lisbon, April 23 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmão of East Timor has defended the possibility of international "dialogue" with Islamic terror groups, saying contact with such organizations would not be an admission of weakness.

"Dialogue", Gusmão said Thursday night in Lisbon, "represents contact and an exchange of ideas and options, and not a way of recognizing terrorists as the stronger party".

Speaking to journalists before a dinner hosted by the speaker of the Portuguese Parliament, João Bosco Mota Amaral, the Timorese leader said dialogue was "always good", "always necessary" and "not demeaning", echoing the stance taken recently by former Portuguese President Mário Soares.

Disagreeing with his guest, who is paying a week-long visit to Portugal, Mota Amaral said contacts should be reserved for "moderate Muslims", considering Al Quaeda an organization "with which it is not possible to dialogue".

Gusmão, a former guerrilla leader, backed his position, recalling that his rebel force, once considered as terrorists by occupier Indonesia, had finally brought Jakarta to negotiations.

"Dialogue is always necessary", he said. "Sometimes dialogue is denied, but a time comes when it is forced".

Gusmão and Mota Amaral agreed that predominantly Christian East Timor was not a preferential target for Islamic terrorists.

The Timorese leader underlined that Dili's post-independence "good relations" with mostly Muslim Indonesia were "a guarantee" of pacific ties.

Gusmão also said that Dili was "using its lobby" to assure that Portuguese forces remained in East Timor as part of an extended United Nations' peacekeeping mission.

About one-quarter of the current 2,000 UN peacekeepers and police in East Timor, whose mandate ends May 20, are Portuguese.

IEL/SAS Lusa


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