|Subject: AP: Timorese Leaders Vow To Find Peace
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 09:01:30 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Timorese Leaders Vow To Find Peace
By IRWAN FIRDAUS
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - After decades of violence in East Timor, leaders of rival factions promised today to find a way to end fighting and implement a peace pact ahead of a historic vote in the disputed territory.
The reconciliation talks, dubbed Dare II and sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church, are aimed at ending the violence that has escalated in advance of a planned referendum on whether East Timor will become independent or gain autonomy within Indonesia. Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan postponed the referendum, which was originally scheduled for Aug. 8, for at least two weeks, blaming the violence that has left at least 34 dead in two months.
Pro-independence and pro-autonomy factions signed a peace accord a week ago but have not worked out how they will disarm and withdraw from their strongholds.
Domingos Sequeira, spokesman for today's talks, said negotiations among the 20 Timorese leaders were ``off to a promising start'' after three hours of discussion.
``The conclusion from this day's meeting is that there will be no third way,'' said Sequeira, a priest from East Timor's capital Dili. ``The only choices are integration into the rest of Indonesia or independence.''
Independence leader Jose Alexandre ``Xanana'' Gusmao and pro-autonomy leader F.X. Lopes da Cruz both called on delegates to put aside differences to create a peaceful future for East Timor.
Today's negotiations got off to a rocky start because Gusmao, who is serving a 20-year sentence under house arrest in Jakarta, initially was not allowed to leave his residence. Because of his delay, talks began two hours late.
The five-day talks were expected to draw Nobel laureates Jose Ramos Horta, who has been living in exile since before Indonesia invaded, and Bishop Carlos Belo.
Horta was told Thursday he will be granted a visa to attend the talks, said Johnson Pandjaitan, Gusmao's lawyer.
Horta, who has generated animosity among top Indonesian officials for his pointed criticism of their rule, is expected to arrive Saturday. In the past, Horta said he feared arrest, but the government now says he is free to come as long as he doesn't campaign in East Timor.