Subject: Wahid & Megawati to personally welcome Gusmao at airport

Irish Times [Dublin] Wednesday, October 27, 1999

Gusmao invited to Jakarta

The move heralds a fresh start in relations between East Timor and Indonesia, Conor O'Clery reports from Dili.

EAST TIMOR: Just seven weeks after being released from house arrest in Jakarta, the East Timor resistance leader, Mr Xanana Gusmao, has been invited to return to the Indonesian capital as the president-in-waiting of an independent East Timor.

Indonesia's new president, Mr Abdurrahman Wahid, announced the initiative yesterday, heralding a fresh start in relations between East Timor and the country which occupied and oppressed the former Portuguese colony for the last 24 years.

President Wahid said he and the Vice-President, Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri, would meet Mr Gusmao at the airport to welcome him personally.

He gave the news after naming a new reformist cabinet, which sidelined the armed forces chief, Gen Wiranto, and removed from office the Foreign Minister, Mr Ali Alatas, who spent most of the Suharto years defending Indonesia's 1976 annexation of East Timor.

Mr Wahid, who said that it was essential for Indonesia to remain on good terms with an independent East Timor, did not reveal when the meeting would take place. High on Mr Gusmao's agenda will be the fate of thousands of East Timor refugees forcibly deported by militias to West Timor and other parts of Indonesia after East Timor voted for independence on August 30th.

The Indonesian president also yesterday formally notified the UN that Indonesia recognised the outcome of the poll and had relinquished its claims on the territory it invaded in 1975. The last 1,000 Indonesian troops and police will be withdrawn shortly from East Timor, which since September 20th has come under the control of the Australian-led international force (Interfet).

Col Sahala Skalahi of the Indonesian army told reporters in Dili: "As soon as I get the order I will leave quickly. It would take me only a couple of days."

Mr Gusmao was captured and jailed in 1992 for leading armed resistance to Indonesian rule. He returned to Dili last week to a hero's welcome. As commander of the Falintil (Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor) guerrilla movement, Mr Gusmao is heir apparent to the top civilian leadership post.

In the meantime, however, he will be merely a consultant to an interim United Nations authority which effectively came into being on Monday at the UN and will run East Timor for a two-to-three year period.

This results from a unanimous UN Security Council vote on Monday to set up an interim administration to run everything from the government to the courts in the shattered country, and to provide a peacekeeping force of nearly 11,000 troops and police. Announcing what he called a "crucial stage in the lives of the people of East Timor", the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi An nan, appointed Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello (51), the Brazilian UN undersecretary-general for huma nitarian affairs, as his special representative in overall change of East Timor. He is expected to arrive in East Timor around November 7th.

The mission is one of the largest and costliest the UN has ever undertaken, with the total expenditure expected to be between $700,000,000 and $1 billion for the first year, according to Mr Bernard Miyet, the UN secretarygeneral for peacekeeping. It aims to rebuild East Timor's institutions from scratch.

The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, or UNTAET, is expected to take over security from Interfet by January. UNTAET will comprise 8,950 troops, 200 military observers, 1,640 police officers and possibly 1,500 civilian officials.

Many contingents from the current military operation, which includes 30 Irish Army Rangers, will don blue berets and join the peacekeeping force, but with the UN rather than contributing countries paying the bills.

Today in Darwin, North Australia, a delegation from the World Bank will meet an East Timorese group led by Mr Mario Carrascalao, a former governor of East Timor under Indonesian rule, to evaluate the cost of rebuilding East Timor and to assess the humanitarian needs of the territory's estimated 850,000 people, including some 250,000 refugees that have not yet returned home.

East Timor was laid waste by the Indonesian military and proJakarta militias in the days after the referendum when nearly 80 per cent of voters opted for independence from Jakarta.


Jakarta Post October 26, 1999

President to meet Xanana

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid has planned to hold a meeting next month with East Timor independence leader Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao, possibly in Brunei or another neutral Southeast Asian country, his aide said on Monday.

Muladi, the state secretary in the former government of B.J. Habibie, said the meeting would take place during the President's lengthy working visits to nine Asian capitals.

"It will be an informal meeting which hopefully will bear fruit," Muladi, who is helping President Abdurrahman settle in his new office, said.

Xanana, who spent seven years in a Jakarta jail until his release last month, was chosen because he was known to be a moderate figure who would likely become the new East Timor leader, he said.

Muladi said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was drafting a letter notifying the United Nations of the decision by the People's Consultative Assembly this month to endorse the result of the Aug. 30 ballot in East Timor.

In the UN-supervised ballot, East Timorese overwhelmingly voted against the option for wide-ranging autonomy within Indonesia.

Muladi said once the letter was signed by the President and delivered to the United Nations, Indonesia would effectively hand over East Timor to the world body."There is no need for any ceremony," he said. (prb/emb)


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