Subject: AFP: East Timor leader discusses post-peacekeeping era with UN

East Timor leader discusses post-peacekeeping era with UN

30 January 2004

East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao said Friday he was in talks with United Nations chief Kofi Annan on a follow-on mission to succeed a UN peacekeeping force in his country.

Gusmao, speaking after talks here with European Commission president Romano Prodi, said: "I believe that the secretary general would like to know better some of the aspects.

"Of course we need to exchange more opinions on the post-UNMISET period," he told reporters, referring to the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor.

Annan said Thursday during a visit to Brussels that the UN was sending an assessment team to East Timor to determine what kind of follow-on mission should succeed the Australian-led UN peacekeepers.

"What we would want to do is to be able to make sure that the gains we've made are not lost when we withdraw," he said.

East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta has called for UN peacekeepers to stay in the country until the end of 2006 while his government shores up its own security.

The former Portuguese colony won independence from 24 years of Indonesian rule in May 2002 after a long and bloody struggle.

Prosecutors in East Timor are trying to bring retired General Wiranto, who was Indonesia's military commander during the territory's bloody breakaway from Jakarta, to trial for alleged crimes against humanity.

Gusmao, who led the guerrilla resistance against Indonesian rule, said in Brussels: "About Wiranto, it is a matter for the judiciary."

The president has in the past strongly criticised the indictments against Wiranto and others, saying a harmonious relationship with giant neighbour Indonesia should be East Timor's priority.

After his meeting with Gusmao, Prodi pledged the European Union would continue to support East Timor as the fledgling country struggles to establish itself.

"The emergency period is over but certainly we have programmes that we are doing together, we want to stick to that," he said.

EU assistance to East Timor would focus on human resources, notably to help tackle high unemployment and reform of the judiciary, Prodi said.

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