Subject: AP: Timorese leaders, U.N. representatives visit site of Indonesian border inc

Also: AFP: Australia downplays report of Timor-Indonesia border clashes

Associated Press

October 20, 2005 Thursday 8:37 AM Eastern Time

Timorese leaders, U.N. representatives visit site of Indonesian border incursion

GUIDO GUILLIART; Associated Press Writer

PASSABE, East Timor

East Timor's foreign minister Thursday blamed former pro-Jakarta militiamen for inciting last week's cross-border attack by gangs of Indonesians on East Timorese villagers and police, but vowed that the incident would not derail the steadily improving relations between his nation and its former occupier.

"East Timor has full confidence in the leadership of (Indonesian President) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. This incident will not even remotely affect our trust in the government of Indonesia," Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta said during a visit to the village where the incursion occurred.

On Saturday, an Indonesian mob armed with sticks, knifes, and air rifles crossed the border between Indonesia and the East Timorese enclave of Oecussi, attacking two border policemen and setting fire to two buildings. The Indonesians, who had advanced about 800 meters into East Timorese territory, later withdrew without further violence.

The incident has strained the steadily improving political, social and economic ties between the two countries.

Indonesia's military invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and ruled it with an iron hand until 1999, when its 700,000 inhabitants voted overwhelmingly for independence in a U.N.-organized referendum. The army and pro-Jakarta militias retaliated by devastating much of the territory and killing at least 1,500 people in an orgy of violence that ended only after the arrival of international peacekeepers.

Although U.N. troops have now pulled out of East Timor, the world body still maintains an assistance mission in the country, among the poorest in Asia.

Over the past three years, however, relations between East Timor and Indonesia have improved significantly. East Timor now gets more than 80 percent of its imports from Indonesia and is also dependent on its former occupier for electricity and gas. All flights pass through Bali island, and many of Indonesia's laws are still on the books.

"It has been peaceful along the land border between two countries during six years of our independence," Horta told assembled villagers. "This has been because of the cooperation of Indonesia and its military.

"We should not judge them because of this incident in Passabe. And sometimes the Indonesian army is not able to control (the border). We know these ex-militiamen," Horta said.

Sukehiro Hasegawa, the head of the U.N. mission, accompanied Ramos Horta during the visit to Oecussi, which is surrounded by Indonesian territory.

Sub-Inspector Antonio da Silva, head of the Border Patrol Unit, told the visiting delegation that Indonesian soldiers were seen standing behind the advancing mob during Saturday's violence.

The government in Dili has summoned the Indonesian Ambassador Ahmed Bay Sofwan to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over the incursion.


October 20, 2005

Australia downplays report of Timor-Indonesia border clashes

SYDNEY (AFP): Australia said Thursday it was confident the Indonesian military was not involved in recent violence on the East Timor border and rejected a report that militia activity in the area was increasing.

The Australian newspaper reported that the UN chief in East Timor, Sukehiro Hasegawa, had expressed concern the Indonesian military was behind a weekend incident at Oecussi, an East Timor enclave that lies within Indonesian territory.

Quoting from a cable it said was sent by Hasegawa to UN headquarters in New York, the newspaper said he feared the enclave could become a flashpoint.

It said a mob of about 200 people attacked East Timor police in the area on Saturday as Indonesian soldiers looked on.

"Seven TNI (Indonesian) soldiers were seen at the rear of the group, clearly condoning, if not encouraging, this action," the cable reportedly said.

Australia, which angered Jakarta by supporting East Timor's successful push for independence, said it had received no reports of Indonesia provoking border violence.

"There is no TNI involvement and both TNI and the East Timorese police have been monitoring this situation," Downer told reporters.

"The point that I would make is that this is not a resumption of militia activity of the sort we saw in 1999," he said.

"These are land disputes as a result of the delineation of the border - nothing more or nothing less than that and I don't think there's any value to be gained in exaggerating the dimensions of the problem."

In Indonesia, military spokesman Ahmad Yani Basuki said he was not aware of the incident but denied suggestions that militia groups are still active in the border. He said militias disbanded long ago.

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