Subject: RT/AFP: Indonesia, East Timor heal wounds with historic border pact

Last Update: Friday, April 8, 2005. 10:00pm (AEST) East Timor, Indonesia sign border deal

East Timor and former ruler Indonesia signed a border demarcation agreement today shortly after Indonesia's President arrived in Dili for a two-day visit.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri witnessed the signing by their foreign ministers.

"This is a fruit of hard work. Today is a step forward for both countries and it is because of the determination of the people of the two nations," said Mr Alkatiri.

He said the agreement covered more than 95 per cent of outstanding border issues.

Mr Yudhoyono said the signing was "a good foundation for improving cooperation and friendship" with the tiny state ruled by Jakarta until its 1999 vote for independence.

East Timor, the world's youngest nation, occupies the eastern side of the island of Timor and a tiny pocket on the western side while the rest belongs to Indonesia.

East Timorese split from Indonesia after 24 years of military rule and the mainly Roman Catholic territory finally became independent in May 2002 after two-and-a-half years of UN administration.

In recent years, both countries have buried their animosity and vowed to become good neighbours.

Mr Yudhoyono plans to address the East Timor Parliament on Saturday.

Later he visits two cemeteries, one where Indonesian troops killed dozens of protesters in November 1991, and the other where fallen Indonesian soldiers were buried.

The former army general had several tours of duty in East Timor as an infantry officer in the late 1970s and early 1980s while East Timor President Xanana Gusmao was a guerrilla leader.

Last month, the two presidents launched a joint truth commission in hopes of putting behind them a rampage in which pro-Jakarta militias slaughtered about 1,000 East Timorese after the 1999 referendum.

-Reuters

-------- Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Date: 08 Apr 2005

Indonesia, East Timor heal wounds with historic border pact

by Rosa Garcia

DILI, April 8 (AFP) - Indonesia and East Timor on Friday signed an historic border agreement, removing one of the last obstacles to reconciliation between Jakarta and the territory it brutally occupied for almost quarter of a century.

On his first visit to Dili since taking office last year, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono inked the pact with East Timor's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, clarifying 96 percent of their mutual frontier.

Both countries meanwhile have avoided addressing military-backed atrocities committed after Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and before it pulled out in 1999, killing hundreds in a scorched earth policy.

However, Yudhoyono is Saturday expected to make a symbolic visit to the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, where Indonesian troops massacred dozens of people protesting the death of a pro-independence activist 14 years ago.

The troops opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators who were holding a procession at the cemetery in November 1991 to honor Sebastiao Gomez, who was killed a week earlier by the Indonesian military.

More than 200 people were believed killed in the shooting, which prompted the United States to restrict arms sales to Indonesia and suspend training of Indonesian soldiers.

Yudhoyono is also expected to pay a visit to a monument commemorating hundreds of Indonesian soldiers who died in East Timor.

Indonesia finally withdrew from the territory in 1999 in a maelstrom of military-sponsored violence surrounding a UN-backed independence vote. The United Nations alleged that at least 1,400 people were murdered. Whole towns were razed.

An Indonesian tribunal set up to try military officers and officials for atrocities in East Timor has drawn international criticism for failing to jail any high-ranking Indonesians.

The UN has begun a review of the tribunal, but Dili and Jakarta say the move is unnecessary, preferring to focus on a South Africa-style truth and reconciliation commission to deal with the past.

Speaking after the signing of the border agreement, Alkatiri said the document represented a major step forward in relations between his tiny half-island country and its giant neighbour.

"Our two nations have been able to reach a provisional land border agreement after less than five years of talks," he said.

"This is a great achievement in its own right and it bodes well for making progress on other fundamentally important issues such as reconciliation, trade, investment and economic cooperation."

Yudhoyono was earlier given a 21-gun salute as he arrived at Dili's airport on a Garuda Indonesia flight, fresh from a tour of Australia and New Zealand.

The president, who received a warm reception from small crowds of East Timorese who turned out to greet him, thanked the impoverished country for its symbolic donation of 75,000 dollars for victims of the December 26 tsunami.

According to officials in Dili, a planned dinner in honor of the Indonesian president later Friday was scrapped because Yudhoyono wanted to watch television coverage of the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

str-bjn/it/mb

Copyright (c) 2005 Agence France-Presse Received by NewsEdge Insight: 04/08/2005 07:36:40

Jakarta Post April 08, 2005

East Timor, Indonesia ink border demarcation deal

DILI, East Timor (Agencies): East Timor and former ruler Indonesia signed a border demarcation agreement on Friday shortly after Indonesia's president arrived in Dili for a two-day visit.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri witnessed the signing by their foreign ministers.

"This is a fruit of hard work. Today is a step forward for both countries and it is because of the determination of the people of the two nations," Alkatiri said as quoted by Reuters.

He said the agreement covered more than 95 percent of outstanding border issues.

Both countries meanwhile have avoided addressing military-backed atrocities committed after Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and before it pulled out in 1999, killing hundreds in a scorched earth policy.

Susilo plans to address the East Timor parliament on Saturday. (**)


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