|Subject: LUSA: After 'positive' talks in
Washington, Gusmao heading to Portugal
03-10-2002 12:24:00. Notícia nº 4178585…
East Timor: After 'positive' talks in Washington, Gusmao heading to Portugal
East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao prepared to head to Portugal Thursday after a "positive" round of meetings in Washington, including talks with President George Bush.
Gusmao was expected to arrive in Lisbon Friday for a five-day official visit, his first as head of state of the newly independent Asian country.
Dili's ambassador to Washington, Jose Luis Guterres, described Gusmao's separate meetings with Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice Wednesday, and earlier with other senior officials, as "positive".
He said Washington had "reaffirmed its commitment to aiding East Timor", while Gusmao had asked for continued US participation in the training of his fledgling defense force.
"It is also in (Dili's) interest to reinforce cooperation in other areas" with the United States, Guterres added.
During the visit to Washington, Gusmao's delegation signed an accord establishing the legal framework covering the presence of US troops in East Timor.
Earlier Dili and Washington agreed to exempting US troops from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
In a report Wednesday on Gusmao's visit, the "Washington Post" described East Timor as "an emerging (US) ally".
Ambassador Guterres, asked about the president's health, confirmed back problems had kept Gusmao from fulfilling all his schedule. But he said the president was "improving" and would likely be fully recovered by the time he reached Lisbon Friday.
During his five-day stay in Portugal, Gusmao will hold talks with President Jorge Sampaio and Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, among other senior officials.
Lisbon, East Timor's colonial ruler over four centuries, is one of Dili's major aid partners, providing it with a strong contingent of UN peacekeepers.
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Daily Press Briefing
QUESTION: New subject. Can you explain the signing ceremony with the Timorese? What is this?
MR. BOUCHER: What was it?
QUESTION: Yeah. What does it do -- practical --
MR. BOUCHER: Following the meeting with the President of East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, Secretary Powell and East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta signed a Status of Forces Agreement for our military in connection with humanitarian assistance projects, possible ship visits and other agreed activities. These are standard agreements that we have with many countries around the world that provide for appropriate procedures regarding the status of US forces in those countries, in whatever country they happen to be located -- legal procedures, status, ID Cards, any number of things that are provided for in these agreements -- and they make it -- they facilitate our deployments and our activities in country.
In East Timor, we have military people out there working on humanitarian assistance projects, the possibility of ship visits, other things that we might agree with the government to do.
The meeting was a good meeting. They discussed -- I think first of all, the Secretary congratulated the East Timor President on East Timor's admission to the United Nations on September 27th. We expressed our appreciation for East Timor's signing of an International Criminal Court Article 98 agreement, and they talked about areas of cooperation as we go forward, about the prospects for East Timor, about various kinds of cooperation that we might have to try to ensure their success as a new nation.
QUESTION: Does it incorporate any elements of the Article 98 agreement and what is the status of that? Has it been ratified by the East Timorese legislature or --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'm sure he'll be available as we answer those questions if you want but I don't know exactly the status in East Timor of the agreement.
QUESTION: Now what about -- does the SOFA, Status of Forces Agreement, incorporate --
MR. BOUCHER: No. There are different kinds of agreements. We have both now with --
QUESTION: You have both now?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
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