Subject: Lusa: Alkatiri in Lisbon for Week-long Aid, Cooperation Talks

Alkatiri in Lisbon for Week-long Aid, Cooperation Talks

22 Oct

Leading a transition government delegation, East Timor´s chief minister, Mari Alkatiri, arrived in Lisbon Monday for a week of cooperation talks with Portuguese leaders.

Alkatiri, who will remain in Lisbon for eight days before heading to New York for discussions on East Timor´s independence with the UN Security Council, will hold talks with President Jorge Sampaio, Parliament Speaker Antonio Almeida Santos and Prime Minister Antonio Guterres.

During his first official visit to East Timor´s former colonial ruler since taking office last month after the territory´s first elections, Alkatiri will also discuss Portuguese aid and cooperation programs with many cabinet members, including the ministers of foreign affairs, defense and finance.

In Lisbon, Alkatiri joins Xanana Gusmao, the territory´s independence leader, who arrived Sunday for a five-day private visit.

Under doctors´ orders, Gusmao was resting at a Lisbon hotel Monday after undergoing medical tests at the Military Hospital, immediately after his arrival, for severe back pains. &nbsp In a brief arrival statement Sunday, Gusmao said Portugal had a "special role" to play in the building of an independent East Timor.

He declined to elaborate, however, saying that Chief Minister Alkatiri was also coming to Lisbon and was in "a better position to talk about this".

He also declined comment on the Dili constituent assembly´s decision to set next May 20 as the date for declaring East Timor´s independence.

Gusmao, who will also be meeting with Portuguese leaders, is accompanied by his wife and youngest child.

Both Gusmao and Alkatiri will attend the launching Monday night of the book "Self-determination in East Timor", written by Ian Martin, the former head of the UN´s UNAMET mission that oversaw the territory´s 1999 plebiscite for independence from Indonesia.

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