Subject: AFP: US welcomes Indon move on Timor, offers aid; Lisbon reacts cautiously
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:47:49 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

US welcomes Indon move on Timor, offers aid; Lisbon reacts cautiously

WASHINGTON, April 27 (AFP) - A senior US official on Tuesday welcomed Indonesian President B.J. Habibie's acceptance of a UN autonomy deal for East Timor and said Washington wanted to play "an active and positive role."

But the official, who asked not to be named, also regretted continuing violence against Timorese civilians by unrestrained militia groups opposed to Timorese autonomy.

"We welcome President Habibie's April 27 announcement that he accepts without change the UN-brokered autonomy package for East Timor and will authorize his representative to sign all elements of the accord on May 5," the official said.

He called the decision an "important step toward clearing the way for the UN direct ballot consultation process with the East Timorese on August 8," urged "immediate establishment" of a UN presence, and called for unimpeded access for aid groups.

Jakarta announced Tuesday it was ready to give the former Portuguese colony of East Timor its independence if the 800,000 Timorese reject an autonomy plan. Indonesia annexed the territory in 1976.

Habibie set the election date for August 8 and said Indonesia would accept the presence of UN "civilian police."

"The United States wishes to play an active and positive role in support of the UN process. We are discussing the specific way in which the US will assist. No final decisions have been made," the official said.

Washington remains deeply troubled, however, by reports on continuing violence by militia groups against Timorese civilians, and urges the Indonesian authorities to restrain and disarm the militia, he said.

Asked how the United States would aid with national elections scheduled for June, the official replied: "We will follow through in a way that will be conspicuous."

Lisbon reacts cautiously to news of Timor referendum

LISBON, April 27 (AFP) - Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres reacted cautiously Tuesday to the announcement by Indonesian President B J Habibie that a referendum on the future of East Timor would be held on August 8.

"It is a moment of joy but also of concern, given that very serious situations persist on the ground. There are (pro-Indonesian) militias to disarm, there is insecurity which preoccupies all of us," Guterres told journalists.

Habibie announced the August 8 date earlier in the day at a summit with Australian Premier John Howard in the resort island of Bali. The vote had originally been pencilled in for July.

Habibie also said he had approved a draft agreement on the voting mechanism for East Timor's 800,000 people so that a final autonomy package could be signed at the United Nations on May 5.

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