Subject: AFP: Alatas to Meet East Timorese Leaders on Bali
Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 17:26:41 +0100 (BST)
From: hops <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo
Indonesian foreign minister to meet East Timorese leaders
JAKARTA, Oct 14 (AFP) - Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas is set to start two days of talks in Bali Thursday with East Timorese groups, sources and the state Antara news agency said Wednesday.
But the sources said many of the invitees, including Nobel laureate Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, may not show up because the invitation was issued only 24 hours before the meeting.
Alatas issued a "sudden" invitation to some 60 people, both pro-referendum and pro-integration leaders from the troubled territory, to attend a the two-day long dialogue in Bali Thursday and Friday, the sources said.
"But the invitation only arrived one day before the dialogue, so many people are unable to go," a resident source in capital Dili told AFP by telephone Wednesday.
"The invitation said the dialogue is to socialize results of the senior officials meeting in New York on October 6-8," he said, adding student leaders and local government officials were on the list of invitees.
Portuguese and Indonesian officials met in New York earlier this month under UN auspices to discuss an offer by Jakarta of broad autonomy for the former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia in 1975.
The source said several East Timorese leaders had already left Dili for Bali on a flight chartered by the foreign ministry.
They included pro-referendum figures Anicetto Guterres, who is also chairman of the Justice and Human Rights Foundation, and Abel Da Costa of the Timorese National Resistance Council.
Also included were the Indonesian police chief and military commander of East Timor.
Belo said Wednesday he could not join the meeting, but a senior diocese representative would attend on behalf of the Catholic community.
"I regret that I will not be able to fulfill Minister Alatas' invitation to meet in Denpasar for a dialog with other East Timorese figures because I have religious services which have long been programmed by the Catholic community," Belo was quoted by the state Antara news agency as saying.
"Many of the student leaders refused to go because they think there's a political conspiracy behind the dialogue," the resident source said.
"Many feel it is very strange the invitation was given only a day before a dialogue which is to be held hours away in Bali," he added.
Indonesian troops invaded East Timor in 1975, and annexed the territory a year later in a move never recognized by the United Nations. Since 1983 the issue of East Timor's independence has been discussed with the Indonesian and Portuguese governments under UN auspices.
Jailed East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao has said Jakarta's autonomy offer would only be acceptable as a transitional step towards a referendum on self-determination.
The meeting was called after three consecutive days of demonstrations in Dili calling for the resignation of governor Jose Abilio Soares because of a threat to fire civil servants who did not agree with the autonomy proposal.
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