Subject: LUSA: Dili Leaders Meet Washington Lawmakers Prior to Big Aid Package

17 May 01 11:57 East Timor: Dili Leaders Meet Washington Lawmakers Prior to Big Aid Package

East Timor's best known political leaders, Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta, are to meet with US legislators in Washington Thursday, where congress is preparing to debate a dlrs 25 million-to- 30 million Timorese aid package.

After meetings with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfenson Wednesday, Ramos Horta, Dili´s transition foreign minister, expressed pleasure at the unexpectedly large aid package under consideration.

"Even if the two chambers settle on the smaller amount, it will still be more than 100 percent more than we had expected, seeing that the American government had proposed dlrs 10 million in aid" for this year, Ramos Horta said.

The House of Representatives has proposed dlrs 25 million in aid for East Timor, while the Senate is discussing a dlrs 30 million package.

Both Gusmao, the leader of the territory's struggle from independence from Indonesia, and Ramos Horta said they were "very satisfied" with their meetings with Powell and Wolfenson.

The talks Wednesday went beyond discussion of continued US aid and included issues such as Indonesian human rights abuses and atrocities in the formerly occupied territory, the Timorese leaders said.

On Friday Gusmao and Ramos Horta travel to New York for meetings with members of the United Nations Security Council and Secretary- General Kofi Annan.

Among issues they said would be raised at the UN is the possibility of establishing an international war crimes court for East Timor, given Jakarta's snail-paced response to international demands that it try those responsible for the wave of violence before and after the 1999 independence plebiscite.

SAS -Lusa-

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