Subject: EAST TIMOR: Observer status to be sought at Forum
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 08:59:03 -0500
From: Journ12 <robie_d@usp.ac.fj>

Title -- 1967 EAST TIMOR: Observer status to be sought at Forum Date -- 1 March 1999 Byline -- Media release Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Pacific Concerns Resource Centre <pcrc@is.com.fj>, 1/3/99 Copyright -- The National Status -- Unabridged -------------------

EAST TIMOR TO SEEK OBSERVER STATUS AT FORUM: RAMOS HORTA

SUVA: East Timor will seek observer status with the South Pacific Forum in its transition process to independence, according to Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate Jose Ramos Horta.

The East Timorese leader also stated that East Timor would welcome the involvement of Fiji in the transition process.

Mr Ramos Horta was speaking during a visit to Fiji, following meetings with Fiji's Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Berenado Vunibobo, and the Secretary-General of the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, Noel Levi.

"We see that a strategic priority for East Timor is to build its links to the South Pacific, through applying for observer status and membership of the South Pacific Forum," said Mr Ramos Horta.

"In my meetings today, I stated our wish that Fiji play a role in supporting the transitional process that is underway for East Timor."

Mr Ramos Horta said East Timor would benefit from the different island experiences, in terms of economic development and regional cooperation. Since East Timor is also an island, Mr Ramos Horta said they would face almost exactly the same issues and agenda of the South Pacific Forum member countries.

He also said that East Timor has much more in common culturally and historically with the South Pacific than with Indonesia and the rest of South East Asia.

Mr Ramos Horta is vice-president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance. Together with East Timorese Bishop Carlos Belo, he was awarded the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in seeking a peaceful resolution of the conflict in East Timor, following Indonesia's 1975 invasion and annexation.

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Title -- 1969 EAST TIMOR: Forum interest after Ramos Horta visit Date -- 2 March 1999 Byline -- None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Forum Secretariat, 2/3/99 Copyright -- Forum Secretariat Status -- Unabridged ------------------- PRESS STATEMENT 1399

FORUM INTEREST IN EAST TIMOR

The Secretary General of the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, Mr Noel Levi, CBE, has welcomed what he described as the positive developments in East Timor.

His comments follow a meeting yesterday with Nobel Peace Prize winner and East Timor independence activist Mr Jose Ramos Horta.

During the meeting, Mr Horta briefed the Secretary General on the historical background of East Timor and recent developments that will affect the future of the East Timorese people, more particularly the latest move by Indonesia that would consider giving East Timor more autonomy and self-determination.

He said that East Timor would be trying to develop closer ties with countries of the South Pacific region and that one of its goals was to seek observer status at the South Pacific Forum, as a prelude to eventually becoming a full member.

In response, the Secretary General welcomed the briefing on developments in East Timor and noted the interest to forge closer ties with South Pacific Forum member countries.

Mr Ramos-Horta shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with his fellow countryman Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo.

The Forum member countries are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Forum Secretariat, Suva 2 March 1999

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