Subject: Portugal, East Timor intensify cooperation

Also: Lisbon diplomat welcomes UN's one-year mission extension; Lisbon diplomat welcomes UN's one-year mission extension

BBC Monitoring Source: Lusa news agency web site, Lisbon, in Portuguese 1045 gmt 21 May 04

Portugal, East Timor intensify cooperation

May 21, 2004 11:52am Asia Intelligence Wire

Dili, 21 May - Portugal "is a trustworthy strategic partner of East Timor", and this derives from its lack of geo-strategic ambitions, the secretary of state for foreign affairs and cooperation noted, in Dili, today.

Speaking to [news agency] Lusa at the end of a five-day official visit to East Timor, Manuela Franco stressed that this "lack of ambition" is, at the same time, "a great advantage" for the Portuguese-speaking countries.

This was the Portuguese official's reaction to remarks by the Timorese prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, published in the Timorese newspaper Semanario, in which he conveyed the fears of some donor countries regarding East Timor's gradual economic independence.

"Naturally, some countries do not stipulate any conditions, and Portugal is one of them", Alkatiri said.

Manuela Franco believes that, even though "Portugal held on to its colonial empire until quite late", it has been "possible to build up political relations" with the former colonies, "with whom Portugal maintains excellent bilateral relations". [Passage omitted]

The secretary of state travelled to East Timor to represent the Portuguese government in the commemorations of the second anniversary of independence, yesterday, which also marked the end of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in support of East Timor (UNISET) and the handover of security and stability responsibilities to the Timorese authorities.

Manuela Franco also headed the Portuguese delegation at the East Timor and Development Partners Meeting, in Dili, on 18-19 May.

The visit included the signing of the Annual Cooperation Plan for 2004 (PAC 2004) - a key document laying down the aims and strategies of the two countries for the development of East Timor - which envisages a 27.5m euro aid package for 44 projects in areas such as education and support for the diffusion of the Portuguese language, institutional development, social and economic support, among others.

East Timor: Dili and Lisbon sign euros 27 million aid package

Dili, May 19 (Lusa) - Portugal and East Timor signed on Wednesday their annual bilateral cooperation accord, under which Lisbon will donate about euros 27 million to fund education and development projects in its former colony.

The agreement was signed in Dili by the head of Portugal`s IPAD state development agency, Luís Almeida Sampaio, and the director general of Timor`s foreign ministry, Nelson Santos.

Attending the signing ceremony were Portugal`s state secretary for foreign affairs and cooperation, Manuela Franco, currently on an official visit to Timor, and Dili`s foreign minister, José Ramos Horta.

Timor`s head of diplomacy underscored Portugal`s role in supporting his country`s development, noting that Lisbon`s 2004 contribution was higher than the euros 7 million pledged by the European Commission for this year.

Lisbon`s latest aid contribution is mainly targeted at Portuguese-language teaching and economic and social development projects.

Dili officials told an international donor conference in Dili this week that Portugal has been the biggest contributor to Timor since 1999, donating euros 163 million.

Australia has given euros 152 million in the same period, with Japan ranked as Timor`s third largest contributor with euros 142 million.

Since its traumatic 1999 breakaway from Indonesian occupation, Timor has received just under euros 1 billion overseas aid.

EL/CJB Lusa

East Timor: Lisbon diplomat welcomes UN's one-year mission extension

Dili, May 17 (Lusa) - Portugal`s state secretary for foreign affairs and cooperation began on Monday an official visit to East Timor to meet Dili's leaders, sign a bilateral aid accord and attend celebrations marking two years of Timorese independence.

Manuela Franco has scheduled meetings with President Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta during her five-day visit.

She will also signature Portugal`s 2004 aid package to Timor, worth about euros 27 million and aimed to bolster Portuguese language teaching and fund a number of development projects.

The United Nations Security Council voted last week to prolong the mandate of the UN Mission of Support to East Timor (UNMISET) for six months - with a further six-month mandate extension likely to follow.

Franco said on arrival in Dili that UNMISET's extension, which followed recommendations by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on a reduced UN presence for one year, was vital to Timor`s stability.

Portugal`s 500-odd peacekeeping troops and police stationed in Timor are being withdrawn this month, but Lisbon is deploying 20 officials to the scaled down UN mission, whose mandate begins May 20, said Franco.

EL/CJB Lusa


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