Subject: USGOV: Albright on E Timor
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 09:35:32 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

[Excerpt]

Address on "Indonesia, the United States and Democracy," Jakarta, Indonesia

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright Remarks at Borobudur Intercontinental Hotel Jakarta, Indonesia, March 5, 1999 As released by the Office of the Spokesman U.S. Department of State

A third challenge for the next government will come from the rising pressure for greater regional autonomy. This is a highly sensitive issue and a source of past conflict. It must be addressed. The United States supports the unity and integrity of the Indonesian nation; and we have faith in the ability of Indonesia's leaders to develop fair and widely backed solutions.

One region, which differs historically from the others, is East Timor. Here, the recent shift in your government's position has raised both opportunities and dangers. The opportunity is to resolve this longstanding dispute in a peaceful manner that respects the views and rights of East Timor's people and reflects well on Indonesia. The danger is that too abrupt a transition could result in violence comparable to that which followed Portugal's withdrawal in 1975. We must learn from history, not repeat it.

The Habibie government deserves credit for its willingness to consider new alternatives and thereby invigorate the negotiating process. The stage has been set for a peaceful determination of East Timor's future. But the need now is for pragmatism and willingness to do hard work on transitional arrangements. For the goal must not be simply to slice East Timor apart or cast it adrift; but rather to ensure its cohesion and viability -- whether through autonomy or independence.

This means that vigorous steps must be taken to break the cycle of violence on the ground, even as the negotiations continue. A further escalation of hostilities could render any diplomatic outcome moot.

That is why the United States fully supports the formation of a broad-based "Peace and Stability Council" to calm the insecurities and ease the tensions that have generated a highly-charged atmosphere within East Timor. We see an urgent need to stabilize the situation through the disarmament of all paramilitary forces, as Xanana Gusmao has proposed and General Wiranto supports.

We favor confidence-building measures, such as a reduction in the number of troops, and an international presence to reduce the prospects for future violence. We believe preparations must be made now for a modification in status so that East Timor can succeed socially and economically. And we believe it is essential that a credible means be identified for determining the will of East Timor's people; because a settlement that does not reflect that will cannot last and will not succeed.

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