Subject: Lusa: Ramos Horta asks Portugal to keep Dili's needs in world spotlight

04-04-2003 11:52:00 GMT Invalid Hora local.

East Timor: Ramos Horta asks Portugal to keep Dili's needs in world spotlight

Lisbon, April 4 (Lusa) - East Timor's foreign minister, José Ramos Horta, appealed to Portugal Thursday to use "all its influence" to keep his fledgling country's needs in the international spotlight.

"When an issue runs relatively well it doesn't grab headlines and ceases to be a priority for some countries. There is the danger that we could be dropped from the list of priority countries", Ramos Horta said after a meeting with President Jorge Sampaio in Lisbon.

The next three years would be "crucial for the consolidation" of East Timor's independence, he said, stressing that a lessening of foreign aid could put "everything at risk".

Describing the situation in his country as "stable and tranquil", Ramos Horta said he had discussed with Sampaio bilateral cooperation and Dili's concerns over high unemployment, security and economic development.

During his visit to Portugal, which began Monday, Ramos Horta has gotten repeated pledges of continued aid from Lisbon, East Timor's colonial ruler for more than four centuries.

On Monday, Foreign Minister António Martins da Cruz reaffirmed continued Portuguese support for the reconstruction of East Timor, severely destroyed by withdrawing Indonesian occupation forces and proxy militias in 1999.

Martins da Cruz also said Lisbon was pressing the United Nations, namely Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to keep Dili's needs high on the UN agenda.

In another development, East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri crticized Ramos Horta Friday for unflattering comments he had made in Lisbon concerning recent government decisions.

Alkatiri said Ramos Horta had demonstrated "institutional indiscipline" in an "unacceptable" manner in criticizing Dili's recent decision to limit visas to 30-day stays in Timor.

The foreign minister, in comments in Lisbon, described the move, which could limit the movement of potential investors, as "nonsense" and due to government "inexperience".


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