Subject: AKI: I will consolidate ties with communist states, Horta

EAST TIMOR: I WILL CONSOLIDATE TIES WITH COMMUNIST STATES, SAYS PM

Dili, 2 May (AKI) - Jose Ramos-Horta, the current prime minister of East Timor and a candidate in the country's upcoming presidential elections, said he will consolidate diplomatic relations with most communists countries, if elected to be the president of East Timor. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner, named Cuba, China and Vietnam as potential future partners but excluded closer ties with North Korea.

"I will build strong relations with all countries of the United Nations, including some countries that adopted communist and socialist systems like Cuba, China and Vietnam," Horta told AKI on Wednesday.

"Collaboration with Cuba is very important to us, especially in relation to the health system. China is a communist country but it is rapidly opening up and East Timor will benefit with stronger ties with Beijing," added Horta.

Havana is currently supplying East Timor with medicine and medical staff and has granted many young Timorese scholarships at Cuban medical universities.

The prime minister, who used to be East Timor's foreign minister, drew the line with North Korea where, he said, "the human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime make it difficult for Dili to get closer."

Horta is the leading candidate for the forthcoming presidential ballot, slated for 9 May.

Although his opponent, Fancisco Lu-Olo Guterres can count on the political organization of Fretilin, the country's largest party, Horta enjoys widespread support among the people. Moreover, on Wednesday, he bagged the support of several political parties, non-governmental organizations and some sections of the Catholic Church.

At the first round of the election, held on 9 April, Guterres garnered 28 percent of the votes, while Horta got 22 percent. Eight candidates are running for the office of president.

The president is mostly a ceremonial figure in East Timor where the power rests with the prime minister.

(Fsc/Ner/Aki)

May-02-07 12:32


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