|Subject: AFP: US-Indonesia ties could suffer if
violence derails Timor vote
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 09:24:52 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
US-Indonesia ties could suffer if violence derails Timor vote
JAKARTA, July 14 (AFP) - US relations with Indonesia could suffer if ongoing violence derails a planned vote on self-determination in East Timor, a senior US government official said here Wednesday.
"If the agreement falls apart, that obviously will have consequences and affect relations with a number of countries around the world, including my own," US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Stanley Roth said.
At a press conference at the US embassy in Jakarta after two days of talks with Indonesian ministers, Roth said Jakarta's failure to rein in Indonesian army-backed militias was the main obstacle to the vote.
"I have been very candid in all my conversations that the primary problem ... is bringing the violence under control and that means the militias, although I emphasize the United States condemns violence on any side."
Washington has in recent weeks strongly urged Indonesia to control armed pro-Indonesia militias in East Timor, blamed for attacks on pro-independence groups and United Nations workers.
"We've made it very clear, unmistakably clear, our view that the actions of the militias or paramilitaries on East Timor are unacceptable," State Department spokesman James Foley said on July 7.
Indonesia has agreed to a United Nations poll next month on an offer of autonomy under Indonesian rule for East Timor, the former Portuguese colony which it invaded in 1975 and annexed a year later.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has already delayed the vote from August 8 for two weeks because of ongoing militia violence, and will decide this week whether to postpone it again.
Roth said he would leave for East Timor Thursday to see the situation on the ground for himself, travelling outside the capital Dili over two days.
He said he would concentrate on whether workers with the United Nations Assessment Mission to East Timor (UNAMET) were able to open some 200 planned polling centers, and whether tens of thousands of refugees could register and all parties campaign without fear.
But the final decision later this week on the security situation -- which under an agreement between Indonesia and Portugal is Jakarta's responsibility -- rests not with Washington but the UN, Roth said.
"Indonesia insisted on responsibility for security ... and has to live up to that," he said.
Since his arrival here early in the week, Roth has held talks with Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, armed forces chief General Wiranto, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and opposition politicians.
All the talks, he said, concentrated on Indonesia's general elections last month and East Timor.
Jakarta said in January that if the East Timorese rejected its autonomy offer, it may allow independence.
But since then unrest in the territory has spiralled, with the militias taking most of the blame for killings of pro-independence East Timorese and attacks on UN workers.
Earlier Wednesday Roth visited East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao, who is serving a 20-year sentence for armed rebellion.
Gusmao is the leader of the Resistance Council for East Timor (CNRT). Jakarta has said it will not consider freeing him until after the vote.
Foreign Minister Alatas visited East Timor Monday with a strong contingent of fellow ministers including General Wiranto (Eds: one name).
He said at the time security conditions were improving and Indonesia was fully committed to the vote going ahead.