Subject: AFP: East Timor president meets fugitive military rebel

East Timor president meets fugitive military rebel

GENEVA (AFP) - East Timor's President Jose Ramos Horta met the leader of a rebellious military faction, Alfredo Reinado, last weekend at the start of an attempt to end unrest in the country, Swiss-based mediators said Wednesday.

"At the meeting, both sides expressed support for a dialogue process with the aim of settling their differences peacefully and ending the armed confrontation," the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva said in a statement.

It called the meeting in Ermera district, southwest of the capital Dili, "a positive move towards the start of a genuine dialogue process."

In June, Ramos-Horta ordered that a massive manhunt for Reinado, a former member of the military police, be called off in a bid to start a dialogue.

However, troops from the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF) later surrounded Reinado's position in Same district.

The incident prompted the former major to ask them to withdraw so he could "give up his arms," his lawyer Benevides Barros Correia told AFP on July 13.

Factional fighting among security forces left at least 37 people dead in April and May 2006 and forced international peacekeepers to be despatched to restore calm.

Reinado was arrested on charges of illegal weapons distribution, desertion and attempted murder following the unrest, but later escaped from jail with more than 50 other inmates.

There have been sporadic attacks on police and UN peacekeepers since then.

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue said it had been asked by Timor's President and by Reinado to carry on mediating along with another group.


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