Subject: AFP: US voices deep concern at violence in East Timor
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:47:03 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

US voices deep concern at violence in East Timor

WASHINGTON, April 8 (AFP) - The United States voiced deep concern Thursday at escalating violence in East Timor and urged Indonesia and Portugal to make progress in their now-postponed talks on the future of the territory.

Citing "credible" reports that armed civilian militias have killed at least five civilians, State Department spokesman James Rubin said US officials were "deeply concerned about violence in East Timor, including the latest reported clashes."

"We reject violence as a means of resolving the situation in East Timor and call for all parties to work for a peaceful solution," he said.

"Although we cannot confirm reports of Indonesian military involvement, Indonesian security forces have the responsibility to maintain order and protect the people," Rubin said.

"We are deeply troubled by their failure to safeguard civilians in East Timor and we call for the immediate disarming of civilian militia groups and investigation into this week's killings, and punishment for those responsible for these crimes, as well as effective measures to prevent further clashes."

US officials also back "an enhanced international presence in East Timor, and the ongoing UN-sponsored talks on the status of East Timor," he said, calling on Lisbon and Jakarta to make progress in a forthcoming round of talks.

Rubin also urged East Timorese leaders to actively pursue talks leading to a cease-fire and other confidence building measures and urged all sides to work to reduce tensions.

At the United Nations earlier Thursday, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard confirmed that UN-sponsored talks between Portugal and Indonesia on East Timor had been postponed one week amid rising violence in the territory.

Senior officials will meet on East Timor at the United Nations on April 21, he said. Foreign ministers from both countries are still scheduled to meet on April 22.

Indonesia annexed the former Portuguese colony in 1976, but the United Nations still recognizes Portugal as the administering power.

Eckhard also announced that, acting on a UN request, the Indonesian government had agreed that an "impartial inquiry be undertaken to establish the facts surrounding the killings" at a churchyard in the East Timorese town of Liquisa.

East Timor Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo -- supported by witnesses -- has charged that militiamen armed by the Indonesian military massacred more than 25 East Timorese in a churchyard this week.

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