Subject: AFP: Foreign diplomats irk Jakarta with shuttle to East Timor
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:46:06 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Foreign diplomats irk Jakarta with shuttle to East Timor

JAKARTA, April 27 (AFP) - Foreign diplomats are keeping up a sustained shuttle to East Timor in a deliberate attempt to ensure an international presence in the troubled territory, to the irritation of Indonesia.

The succession of high-profile visits are part of a sustained, and to a certain degree coordinated attempt by the diplomatic corps in Jakarta to monitor events on the ground in the isolated territory, diplomats here told AFP.

The diplomatic merry-go-round comes amid intense uncertainty and spiralling violence in East Timor, where pro-Indonesian militias have intensified a campaign of terror against independence activists this month.

With at the very least the tacit approval of local Indonesian army commanders and officials, the militias have carried out two massacres this month as police and soldiers have stood on the sidelines.

The Indonesian government is opposed to a permanent foreign diplomatic presence in East Timor -- which it seized in 1975 and annexed a year later in defiance of world opinion -- but it is unsure how to respond to the diplomatic drive.

Irish Foreign Minister David Andrews was in the East Timorese capital Dili on April 17 when the militias rampaged through the city in an orgy of well-targetted killing and destruction unchecked by the army, and was appalled by what he saw.

He expressed his views not only to other diplomats but also to the Indonesian government, which was unable to issue its habitual denial of responsibility faced with such a high-profile witness.

US ambassador to Jakarta, Stapleton Roy, left Dili Tuesday after a fact-finding visit while Portugal's charge d'affaires in Jakarta Ana Gomes was due there later in the day.

Gomes is the first Portuguese diplomat to return to Indonesia following her government's break in diplomatic ties in 1976, and because of a series of death threats from militias in East Timor she is to be accompanied on her visit by Belgian ambassador Luk Darras.

British Deputy Foreign Minister Derek Fatchett is also expected in Dili on Wednesday, becoming the first member of the British government to visit the territory.

The Indonesian foreign ministry has tried to halt the diplomatic merry-go-round by using the issue of security and expressing concern for the diplomats' safety, according to diplomats based here.

But a breakthrough in 16 years of UN-sponsored negotiations with Portugal over the territory's future has undermined the security argument.

While at the same time questioning the safety of foreign diplomats in East Timor, Jakarta has firmly rebuffed calls for a UN force to police a ballot on autonomy proposals in the territory which is due to be held on August 8.

Indonesia insists its army is capable of ensuring security for the vote, an argument which is thrown back at Jakarta when it tries to oppose diplomatic visits on the grounds of security.

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