Subject: RT: East Timor PM to focus on healing rifts: Indonesia

East Timor PM to focus on healing rifts: Indonesia

By Muklis Ali

July 25, 2006

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The priority for East Timor's new prime minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, is reconciliation after months of political crisis, Indonesia's presidential spokesman said on Tuesday.

Ramos-Horta, on his first trip abroad since becoming premier on July 10, made the comments during a meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The Nobel Laureate, a fierce critic of Indonesia's 1975-1999 military occupation on East Timor, came to power after his predecessor Mari Alkatiri stepped down following suspicions over his role in the recent mayhem in Asia Pacific's newest nation.

"The situation is not 100 percent recovered but has been greatly controlled and is much calmer than before," presidential spokesman Dino Patti Jalal quoted Ramos-Horta as telling Yudhoyono.

"The most important agenda is reconciliation post conflict in East Timor," the spokesman also quoted Ramos-Horta as saying, without elaborating.

East Timor descended into chaos when Alkatiri sacked about 600 members of the 1,400-strong army when they protested about discrimination.

The presidential spokesman said the two countries had also agreed to a trilateral meeting including Australia in Dili, although a date had not been decided yet.

Australian troops are leading a 2,000-plus international peacekeeping force that was brought in to restore peace after weeks of clashes, looting and arson in which at least 20 people died and 100,000 were displaced.

Tiny East Timor is one of the poorest nations in the world with massive unemployment, but does have unexploited energy reserves that could promise considerable wealth in the future.

"Related to economic cooperation, East Timor has invited Indonesian oil companies to be more active in exploration on-shore in East Timor," the spokesman told reporters.

An official at Indonesian state oil company Pertamina said the firm would be keen to participate in exploration in East Timor.

"We want to see the development of the political situation in that country. We are still studying it at this time," said the official from Petermina's upstream directorate. He declined to be identified.

East Timor was a Portuguese colony for centuries before a revolution in Lisbon in 1975 gave the territory a brief taste of independence. Indonesian troops invaded a few days later and Jakarta annexed East Timor in 1976.

After a 1999 vote for independence marked by violence blamed largely on pro-Jakarta militia with ties to the Indonesian army, an international peacekeeping force moved into the territory, ushering in a transitional period of U.N. administration. East Timor became a fully-fledged nation in 2002.

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