Subject: LUSA: Dili, Jakarta delegations note good relations at start of meeting

05-09-2003 11:29:00. Notícia nº SIR-5376800 Temas: new destaque1

East Timor: Dili, Jakarta delegations note good relations at start of meeting

Dili, Sept. 5 (Lusa) - Senior East Timorese and Indonesian delegations, headed by their foreign ministers, began two days of talks Friday in Dili to reinforce relations and seek solutions for bilateral problems.

The second meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission, a body which was created last year, will allow the neighbors "to look to the future of relations between the two countries and two peoples", Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said in opening the talks.

In turn, Jakarta's foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, underlined the progress made in normalizing bilateral relations and in resolving outstanding issues since East Timor broke from Indonesian rule in a 1999 UN-sponsored plebiscite.

Wirajuda called particular attention to significant progress made in demarcating land borders and in the start of negotiations on maritime frontiers.

One of the thorniest issues facing the joint commission in Dili, observers said, is Jakarta's insistence on compensation for properties left behind in East Timor by Indonesian businesses and citizens.

Preferring to focus on future relations, Dili has so far rejected such demands, arguing that agreeing to compensate Indonesians would open a Pandora's Box of similar demands from East Timorese over Jakarta's 24 years of occupation and scorched-earth withdrawal from the territory in 1999.

Alkatiri told Lusa that both sides would continue to present "their arguments" on the issue, adding that the most "important" aspect of the divisive question was to allow "ideas to ripen".

A joint statement was expected at the close of the talks Saturday.

In another development, underscoring improving bilateral relations, the head of Dili's fledgling Defense Force, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, arrived Friday in Jakarta for a visit and talks with Indonesian counterparts and officials.

A spokesman in Dili told Lusa Brig. Gen. Ruak arrived in Jakarta, accompanied by a US military adviser, after a visit to South Korea.


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