Subject: AFP: ETimor PM visits wounded president in Australia
also AU: Ramos Horta morale down over betrayal; AP: Timorese prime minister meets hospitalized president for first time since rebel attacks
ETimor PM visits wounded president in Australia
DARWIN, Australia (AFP) East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao visited the country's wounded president in an Australian hospital Monday for the first time since both were attacked by rebels, an official said.
President Jose Ramos-Horta and Gusmao "embraced in a very friendly and warm manner and spent about an hour together," Royal Darwin Hospital general manager Len Notaras told AFP.
Ramos-Horta, shot by rebel soldiers outside his home in Dili on February 11, was out of bed and in a chair when visited by Gusmao, who was uninjured in an ambush on the same day.
"The president is still convalescing but his condition is improving on a daily basis," Notaras said. "It's four weeks today since he was shot and he has progressed extremely well."
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was kept in an induced coma for 10 days after being airlifted to Australia immediately after the shooting and is expected to remain in hospital another week to 10 days, Notaras said.
But it might be two or three weeks before Ramos-Horta was well enough to return to East Timor, he said.
The prime minister's Australian wife, Kirsty Sword Gusmao, also visited Ramos-Horta and told national radio later he was mentally and physically robust and looking forward to returning home.
"It will be hard I guess to recover from the fact that a member of your people has taken a gun and taken this action against you, but as I said he's extremely robust and I know he won't allow us to distract him from the business of taking care of the nation and the people," she said.
The impoverished nation has been under a state of emergency since the attacks blamed on rebels led by former military officer Alfredo Reinado, who was killed in the gunfire.
East Timorese military and police, with help from an Australian-led international stabilisation force, have been hunting the rebels, eight of whom have surrendered.
International forces were sent to East Timor at the government's request after friction in 2006 between military and police factions led to an upsurge in street violence that left 37 people dead.
Ramos Horta morale down over betrayal
Paul Toohey | March 11, 2008
PRESIDENT Jose Ramos Horta is struggling to comprehend the betrayal involved in an attempt by former members of the Timorese military to kill him and thecountry's Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao.
Although he is recovering well from bullet wounds in a Darwin hospital, Mr Ramos Horta was said yesterday to have been hurt in ways surgery could not mend.
Speaking after a meeting between Mr Ramos Horta and Mr Gusmao - who also came close to death after a near-simultaneous ambush on his motorcade - the Prime Minister's Australian-born wife said the morale of the two men had been seriously affected.
"Obviously this one has a deeply personal nature and it will be hard, I guess, to recover from the fact that someone, a member of your people, has taken a gun and taken this action against you," Kirsty Sword-Gusmao said.
"But (the President is) extremely robust. I know he won't allow this to distract him from the business of taking care of the nation and the people."
Of her husband, she said: "I think, similarly to President Ramos Horta, he has suffered in terms of his morale, but it's not long-term damage.
"And as with Jose Ramos Horta, he'll get back on the job, stay focused on what the issue is, which is about nation building, restoring complete peace and calm to the population."
Mr Gusmao said he greeted Mr Ramos Horta at Darwin Private Hospital with the words: "How are you, Mr President? How are you, brother?"
"As you know, I came as Prime Minister, and as a friend also, to visit the President," Mr Gusmao said. "We are very glad to see the President walking around and being in a good recovery process.
"I told the President about the situation in our country and I have to tell you also that we are still trying to bring pressure to the rest of the rebel group (responsible for the assassination attempts). We hope this week will be the end of the operation."
The rebel leader, Lieutenant Gastao Salsinha, who has been identified as being at the Prime Minister's house on the morning of February 11 and is accused a firing his rifle into the air to give the signal to his men to fire on Mr Gusmao's motorcade, was set to surrender late last week.
It had got to the point where vehicles had been arranged to bring Salsinha and more than 30 of his men, with 18 automatic weapons, into Dili. But negotiations collapsed. Mr Gusmao said yesterday Salsinha had two choices: "surrender or face the consequences".
Ms Sword-Gusmao, who along with her husband was accompanied on the short trip to Darwin by her eldest son, Alexandre, said the meeting between the nation's two leaders was a warm one.
"Clearly (they are) two men who have been very close friends and colleagues for a very long time and I guess they've both been through a pretty horrific ordeal in recent weeks, and naturally, for Xanana to see Jose in such good physical form and in good spirits was a huge relief.
"For us as a family, this was an important opportunity to see with our own eyes that Jose, or godfather as Alexandre knows him, is doing well and to have that confidence he'll soon be back on board and leading again the country so capably."
Mr Ramos Horta is likely to soon move into a safe house in Darwin and may not be home in Dili for another month.
Timorese prime minister meets hospitalized president for first time since rebel attacks
2008-03-10 08:15:44 -
DARWIN, Australia (AP) - East Timor's prime minister visited his country's president, Jose Ramos-Horta, in an Australian hospital Monday in their first meeting since both were attacked by rebel gunmen last month. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said he met with Ramos-Horta for about two hours.
Gusmao told reporters that he updated the president on efforts to capture the remaining rebels responsible for the Feb. 11 attacks.
One suspect has been arrested in last month's attacks and arrest warrants have been issued against 17 people suspected of involvement.
«We hope that this week will be the end of these operations,» Gusmao said. The president was critically wounded when he was shot by rebel soldiers outside his home in the capital, Dili. Gusmao escaped unharmed from an ambush on his motorcade the same day.
Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has undergone surgery five times since being evacuated to Darwin in northern Australia immediately after the apparent assassination attempts.
Royal Darwin Hospital general manager Len Notaras said Ramos-Horta's condition was improving daily.
«He is up and about,» Notaras told reporters Monday. «He's certainly not looking to a marathon at this stage, he is still weak ... but he is recovering very well. East Timor is seeking U.N. assistance in an inquiry into the attack.
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