Subject: LUSA: Despite criticism, Gusmão backs moves to normalize Indonesia ties

East Timor: Despite criticism, Gusmão backs moves to normalize Indonesia ties

Dili, Jan. 31 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmão has dismissed domestic criticism over Dili's efforts to normalize relations with Indonesia, saying East Timor will press forward with plans to set up a bilateral truth commission to deal with Indonesian atrocities committed in 1999.

Speaking in Dili Sunday, one day after his return from talks in Jakarta, Gusmão underlined that he and the government were "legitimate" elected representatives of the people in contrast to non- governmental organizations that have attacked Dili's soft stance towards former occupier Indonesia.

He said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would visit Dili soon for further talks and to sign bilateral accords, including one on land borders and, more importantly, another establishing a so-called Truth and Friendship Commission.

Voices critical of Dili's stance have demanded the UN set up an international tribunal to try Indonesian atrocities.

Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta, who accompanied the president to Indonesia last week, will return to Jakarta next week to continue discussions on the character and composition of the proposed commission, Gusmão said.

In Jakarta, he and Ramos Horta discussed the issue "frankly and clearly", telling the Indonesians the commission, which has yet to get the UN's blessing, "must be credible in the eyes of the international community", the president added.

Dili's representation on the future body, Gusmão said, would be composed by "people of integrity" and would not include members of government and the presidential office.

While in Jakarta both Gusmão and Ramos Horta pledged publicly that East Timor would try to influence Washington to lift its embargo on military cooperation and the sale of arms to Indonesia, longstanding US initiatives taken after Indonesian atrocities in the then occupied territory.

The president said the US embargo had outlived its purpose, given Indonesia's return to democratic elections and improvements in human rights.



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