Subject: AFP: Portuguese PM to tackle East Timor on fringe of UN summit

Agence France Presse Portuguese PM to tackle East Timor on fringe of UN summit

LISBON, Sept 2

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres will meet with Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao on the fringes of next week's UN Millennium summit, official sources said Saturday.

Guterres is expected to discuss the fate of up to 125,000 East Timorese refugees currrently housed in neighbouring West Timor in a meeting Tuesday with Wahid.

He will also raise the problem of the pro-Indonesian militias responsible for much of the violence and destruction in East Timor last year, the same source said.

The UN's chief administrator in East Timor warned Friday that the militias were getting stronger in border areas and that unless they were disbanded efforts to repatriate and resettle the refugees there could collapse.

Guterres is due to dine the same day with Gusmao, who has been mooted as the first president of the future state of East Timor.

He is expected to discuss the teaching of Portuguese in the country's former colony, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed the following year.

During its first conference held earlier this week, the National Council of East Timorese Resistance (CNRT) adopted Portuguese as the official language of East Timor.

The move was welcomed by Guterres who said Portugal had made great efforts to support education in East Timor and added that the choice represented an importance confirmation of the East Timorese people's identity in the region.

Elections which will mark East Timor's progression to statehood

are due to take place between August 30 and December 1 next year, according to the UN.

The territory has been administered by the United Nations since a referendum a UN-organised referendum last August showed an overwhelming desire amongst the East Timorese for separation from Indonesia.

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