Subject: East Timor Independence Leaders to Meet Wahid

also: Mid-January Target for U.N. Peace Force in East Timor

East Timor independence leaders to meet Wahid

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Nobel peace prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta said on Wednesday that he and East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao would meet Indonesia's new president in Jakarta on November 30.

``We are going to Jakarta, even before I finally return to East Timor, to pay tribute to the wisdom and vision of (President) Abdurrahman Wahid and begin the process of reconciliation and rebuilding of relations with that great country, the Republic of Indonesia,'' Ramos-Horta said.

Calling Wahid ``my good friend,'' Ramos-Horta said the new Indonesian leader was a ``man of great moral authority, something that was lacking in Indonesia for many years.''

Ramos-Horta, expected to go home for the first time since 1974 on December 1, made the comments while accepting an award from the Hague Appeal for Peace, a coalition of various groups that organised a conference in the Netherlands capital in May, to call for the abolition of war in the new century.

Cora Weiss, a veteran American peace campaigner and president of the Hague Appeal for Peace, said Ramos-Horta was honoured for his non-violent struggle for East Timorese independence from Indonesia.

In 1996 he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with East Timor's spiritual leader, Bishop Carlos Belo.

Jakarta invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 but agreed to let it go after East Timorese on August 30 voted overwhelmingly for independence in a U.N.-organised ballot.

Pro-Indonesian militias went on the rampage to protest the vote before Australian-led troops entered the territory in mid-September to restore order.

Ramos-Horta, in his speech accepting the prize, noted that U.S. ambassador Richard Holbrooke was leaving for a trip to Timor on Thursday. Holbrooke and Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth are to visit East Timor, West Timor and Jakarta before returning to the United States on November 24.

The United States has suspended military aid after pro-Jakarta militia with ties to the Indonesian army killed, looted and burned to protest the August 30 independence vote. They marched some 200,000 East Timorese to neighbouring Indonesian West Timor and are still holding many of them.

Ramos-Horta has called for sanctions imposed on Indonesia by individual countries to be lifted to help the new government but has asked the embargo on weapons remain in place.


Reuters November 17, 1999

Mid-January Target for U.N. Peace Force in East Timor

By Anthony Goodman

UNITED NATIONS — Mid-January is the best time for an Australian-led peacekeeping force now in East Timor to hand off to a U.N. force, according to a report circulated at the United Nations on Wednesday. The document was a periodic report, submitted by Australia, on the activities of the international force hurriedly deployed to East Timor in September.

That force, called INTERFET (International Force, East Timor), was authorized by the U.N. Security Council to restore order after pro-Jakarta militias went on a rampage of murder and destruction following an August 30 vote in favor of independence from Indonesia.

The council voted on October 25 to replace it with the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), comprised of nearly 11,000 troops and police along with thousands of civilian officials, to help lead the former Portuguese colony to independence in two to three years. The council did not set a firm date for UNTAET's deployment.

"With the continued success of INTERFET, conditions are moving toward the point where the transition to a peacekeeping operation under UNTAET can take place," the report said.

"Australia ... and the United Nations department of peacekeeping operations have agreed that the preferred transition period is mid-January," it said.

It said the Australian commander of INTERFET, Major-General Peter Cosgrove, "advises that, on the basis of current and anticipated security conditions, this date is reasonable."

Urging accelerated planning to assure a timely transition, it said INTERFET would welcome the early deployment of the advance headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping operation and early discussions between UNTAET and INTERFET on the conditions and requirements of the transition.

The early appointment of the senior leadership of UNTAET, including its force commander, would also facilitate an early transition and assist U.N. efforts to secure firm commitments of forces from contributing countries, the report said.

The Brazilian diplomat who will head the overall UNTAET operation for at least six months, Under-Secretary-General Sergio Vieira de Mello, arrived in Dili, the capital of East Timor, on Tuesday.

Philippines Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said in Manila on Wednesday his country had been asked to nominate three Filipino candidates for the post of commander of UNTAET's peacekeeping force. He said at least one other country had been asked by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to nominate candidates for the post.

The Australian report said a transition early next year "roughly accords with the resources available" from a trust fund that pays the costs of INTERFET contingents not funded by their own governments.

"Delay beyond this period would necessitate additional trust fund contributions. This further underscores the importance of an early transition," the report said.

Unlike INTERFET, the costs of UNTAET will be apportioned among all U.N. members and not covered primarily by the troop-contributing countries.

The Australian report said INTERFET had made "significant progress in restoring peace and security throughout East Timor. INTERFET had "successfully marginalized the militias and their capacity to threaten the safety of the East Timorese people," it added, a reference to the pro-Indonesian groups largely responsible for the violence.


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