Subject: AN: East Timor invites Megawati to visit


Jakarta, July 24 (ANTARA) - East Timor, a former province of Indonesia, is hoping to build a strong relationship with Indonesia under the leadership of newly-elected President Megawati Soekarnoputri and inviting her to visit.

"East Timor, as one of your closest neighbours, has every interest in ensuring the strongest possible bilateral relations with Indonesia," Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and chief of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and two Timorese leaders, independence hero Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos-Horta, cabinet member for foreign affairs, said in a joint message made available on Tuesday.

The message delivered by UNTAET's office in Jakarta also said the East Timorese figures were hoping that Megawati could visit their territory.

In fact, they are also cordially inviting the new President to visit East Timor, the message said.

East Timor also hailed Megawati as the new president while telling her that they were aware about the tough conditions to be dealt with by the current Indonesian president.

"This is a demanding challenge that has been set for you but we have every faith that you and the Government you lead will meet this task successfully," the message read.

East Timor integrated into the Republic of Indonesia in 1976 after being a Portuguese colony for 400 years.

Indonesia released the territory in 1999, following the result of Aug 30 ballot, which was in favor of the independence group.

East Timor is now in the process of becoming a sovereign country and will hold its first general election on Aug 30, 2001.

Megawati was sworn in on July 23 as the new Indonesian president, replacing Abdurrahman Wahid, who was sacked for incompetence and alleged involvement in two financial scandals.

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