Subject: Lusa: Dili seeks 'big presence' of Lusophone nations - Ramos Horta

East Timor: Dili seeks 'big presence' of Lusophone nations - Ramos Horta

Lisbon, June 2 (Lusa) - East Timorese Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta, on a private visit to Lisbon, met Wednesday with his Portuguese counterpart, Teresa Gouveia, underlining Portugal's pivotal role in aiding his newly independent country.

Ramos Horta, in comments to journalists after the courtesy call at the Foreign Ministry, told journalists Dili hoped the Lisbon- headquartered Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) would have a "big presence" in the recently extended UNMISET United Nations' mission in East Timor.

While acknowledging the eight-nation bloc's "limited resources", he underscored the importance of bilateral aid from key CPLP members, namely Portugal and Brazil.

He confirmed President Xanana Gusmao's participation at the July CPLP summit in Sao Tome and Principe and announced that the Timorese leader would visit CPLP members Angola, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau after the biennial heads of state gathering.

Ramos Horta called special attention to Lisbon's help in Portuguese language education, varied professional training, and the development of telecommunications and electric power infrastructures.

He also underlined the "commercial and political importance" of recent talks between Dili and Portugal's GALP oil company over the latter's possible participation in Timor Sea oil and natural gas operations.

Ramos Horta repeated his earlier criticism of Gusmão's controversial weekend meeting with Indonesian General Wiranto, who is wanted for crimes against humanity by a UN-backed Dili court, saying the encounter in Bali had been "imprudent".

Coming ahead of Indonesia's July presidential election, the Gusmão-Wiranto meeting, he said, could be viewed as favoring one of the five candidates.

Gen. Wiranto is a leading presidential contender, along with the incumbent president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, with whom Ramos Horta said Dili had established "good relations".

He said East Timor expected to have "excellent relations" with former occupier Indonesia regardless of who won the presidential vote.

The Timorese foreign minister was in Lisbon to participate in a conference on Southeast Asia-Europe relations, which is also being attended by former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas.

VM/SAS Lusa


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