|Subject: USGOV: Albright writes U.S. Senators
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:45:20 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
United States Department of State Washington, D.C. 20520
MAR 12 1999
Dear Senator Feingold:
Thank you for your letter to Secretary Albright dated March 12 1999, regarding the situation in East Timor.
During the Secretary's March 4-5 visit to Indonesia, East Timor figured prominently in her discussions with senior officials of the Indonesian government (GOI) and military (ABRI). She also met with East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.
The Indonesian government's announcement on January 27 that it would respect the will of the people of East Timor and take steps to authorize independence, should the East Timorese reject autonomy, has opened new possibilities for a resolution acceptable to all the parties. Indonesian and Portuguese officials continue to work an the details of an autonomy proposal under UN auspices and the UN is determining a mechanism through which the East Timorese can indicate their acceptance or rejection of that proposal. We continue to support this process as the best vehicle for an enduring and peaceful resolution of East Timor's status.
As East Timor moves toward either autonomy or independence, we look to all parties -- Indonesia, Portugal, the UN Secretary General and the East Timorese themselves -- to work constructively for a sustainable solution with realistic transition arrangements. The transition must give due regard to the stability and viability of East Timor and should not be rushed if that undermines its security and ultimate success.
In that regard, the Secretary expressed deep concern with all her interlocutors in Jakarta about reports from East Timor of escalating political confrontation and human
rights abuses. She urged immediate adoption of measures to break the cycle of violence. She reiterated our call for the GOI to halt distribution by ABRI elements of arms to pro-Jakarta civilian militias, and to collect back those weapons already distributed. The Secretary recognizes that the international community must play immediate and longer term supportive roles in East Timor. She expressed U.S. support to the GOI for an expanded international presence on East Timor, in advance of a negotiated agreement, to reduce violence.
Thank you again for sharing your concerns and advice on this important question. Please do not hesitate to contact us again if we can be of further assistance to you on this or any other matter.
Barbara Larkin Assistant Secretary Legislative Affairs
The original March 1, 1999 letter to Secretary of State signed by 16 Senators follows:
United States Senate WASHINGTON, DC 20610
1 March 1999
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520
Dear Madame Secretary:
As you continue your visit to Asia, we are writing to encourage you to take the opportunity of your stop in Indonesia to press the Indonesian government to work toward a just and peaceful settlement of the situation in East Timor.
While recent statements by the Indonesian government indicating a willingness to consider independence for East Timer were encouraging, the situation on the ground in East Timor remains one of escalating violence by the Indonesian military (ABRI) and ABRI-backed paramilitary units. Serious political violence has wracked East Timor's capital, Dili, in recent days. This immediate crisis must be addressed if hopes of progress toward a resolution of East Timor's status are to be realized.
In your discussions with Indonesian leaders later this week, we urge you to seek their cooperation in implementing several measures which are essential to ameliorate the current situation and lay the groundwork for constructive negotiations on East Timor's future. You should press the Indonesians to: Allow the speedy introduction of permanent UN and other international observers in East Timor; end immediately the arming of pro-integrationist para- military units in East Timor by the ABRI; initiate a process to disarm and disband these units; and, proceed with a genuine, monitored withdrawal of Indonesian troops from East Timor. We also encourage you to call for the immediate release from house arrest of Xanana Gusmao and to proceed with your reported plans to meet with him during your visit.
We recognize the efforts that you and Assistant Secretary Stanley Roth have made to promote the release of political prisoners in Indonesia and to advocate the withdrawal of ABRI troops from East Timor. We hope that you will successfully carry this work forward during your time in Jakarta and look forward to hearing a report upon your return.
Senator Paul Wellstone Senator Russell Feingold Senator Frank Lautenberg Senator Tom Harkin Senator Edward Kennedy Senator Patrick Leahy Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senator Frank Lautenberg Senator Joseph Lieberman Senator Robert Torricelli Senator Herb Kohl Senator Jack Reed Senator Charles Grassley Senator Dianne Feinstein Senator Barbara Mikulski Senator Richard Durbin