Subject: East Timor: Lisbon and Canberra want pro-Jakarta militias out of West Timor

East Timor: Lisbon and Canberra want pro-Jakarta militias out of West Timor

Canberra, Oct. 7 (Lusa) - Portugal and Australia share the view that the presence of integrationalist militias in the Indonesian half of Timor island is a major threat to East Timor`s stability, a senior Lisbon diplomat said Tuesday.

António Lourenço dos Santos, state secretary of foreign affairs and cooperation, said after a meeting with Canberra government defense and foreign affairs officials that "Australia is interested in Timor`s stability and the resolution of this source of potential instability".

Dos Santos said Portugal and Australia were both aware that the withdrawal of UN peacekeeping troops from Timor next year could pose a major security headache for Dili, as pro-Jakarta militias still remain in West Timor.

Jakarta has already pledged it will "relocate" some of the more militant militiamen to other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, but dos Santos said Canberra could use its regional influence to press for the resettlement of the more troublesome gangs.

The Lisbon official - likely to lose his post in the aftermath of the resignation Tuesday of Portugal`s foreign minister - said Australia was now more open to discuss Timor with Portugal, as the language question "apparently does not cause any reticence".

Dos Santos said he had explained to his Australian opposites that the Portuguese language`s status as one of Timor's official tounges was to reinforce the new nation's identity and should not be a barrier between Lisbon and Canberra.

Following the contacts with Canberra officials, it is apparent that there are possibilities for future "joint actions" between Portugal and Australia in Timor, especially in "education and health", said dos Santos.

ASP/CJB -Lusa-

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