Subject: LUSA: President Jorge Sampaio made honorary citizen on swansong visit

Also: Schools get President Sampaio's attention on visit's last day

East Timor: President Jorge Sampaio made honorary citizen on swansong visit

Dili, Feb. 20 (Lusa) - President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal arrived in East Timor Monday on his last overseas trip, a few hours after Dili lawmakers made him an honorary Timorese citizen for his help to the new nation in winning independence.

Accompanied by First Lady Maria José Ritta, the Portuguese leader was greeted just after midnight local time by his counterpart, Xanana Gusmão, and Dili's foreign minister, José Ramos Horta.

After embracing the visiting Portuguese leader, Gusmão said Sampaio's "contribution to the independence of Timor was very important. He always defended the people`s right to self- determination".

Earlier, Ramos Horta had described Sampaio, due to stand down shortly as Portuguese leader after two five-year mandates, as a "leading European statesman", a humanist and a person deeply committed to freedom and dignity.

Earlier Monday, MPs in the Dili National Assembly had voted unanimously to grant Sampaio honorary citizenship of Timor for his "firm and sensitive" championing of the nation's independence from Jakarta.

The Portuguese leader, also awarded a diplomatic passport by Timorese MPs, had been a staunch backer of Dili's efforts to break free from Indonesia's brutal quarter-century rule in 1999.

During his 72-hour visit to Timor, Sampaio is due to meet Dili's heads of state and government and other senior officials.

A visit he was scheduled to make Tuesday to the Metinaro military training facility has been cancelled due to a dispute between disgruntled troops and the Dili authorities, officials said.

Instead, Sampaio will visit the Hera naval base near the capital at a ceremony to be attended by Timor's defense minister and the commander of the East Timor Defense Force (FDTL).


East Timor: Schools get President Sampaio's attention on visit's last day

Gleno, East Timor, Feb. 23 (Lusa) - Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio began the third and final day of his visit to East Timor Thursday in visits to interior schools aided by Lisbon.

Sampaio told more than 1,000 enthusiastic students in the town of Gleno that he understood why independence fighters had been able to resist and overcome a quarter century of Indonesian occupation.

Gleno's April 10, 1999, School, one of 12 benefiting from Portuguese aid in getting Internet access, is named in honor of two classmates who were killed by pro-Indonesian militias on that date.

The Portuguese leader, who is making his last trip abroad and his third to East Timor, before leaving Lisbon's Belem Palace, also toured a professional training school in Tibar, which has received some euros 3.5 million from Portugal since 2001.

Meanwhile, Lisbon's top aid official, Foreign Affairs State Secretary João Gomes Cravinho, signed an accord with the UN Development Program for continued Portuguese support to projects to build and strengthen Timor's justice system.

The agreement assured euros 2.5 million of Portuguese help for the euros 8.4 million program that is also backed by Brazil, Australia and three other European countries.

Another bilateral cooperation agreement was signed Wednesday, with Portugal pledging euros 1.2 million to upgrade Timorese broadcasting facilities to assure nationwide reception of television and radio signals.

"This project will have a great impact on the country, assuring the use of the Portuguese language and helping consolidate national unity", Gomes Cravinho said.


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