Subject: Indonesia considers fate of property in Timor

Indonesia considers fate of property in Timor

JAKARTA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Indonesia said on Saturday it would form a special team to negotiate with the United Nations over its property and other assets in East Timor.

Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs General Wiranto said Jakarta may hand over ownership to East Timor or sell its property.

State firms such as oil and gas giant Pertamina and telecommunications carrier Telcom would like to keep their assets and continue operating in East Timor, he told reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Abdurrahman Wahid.

``We will form a team that will negotiate over the assets with the U.N.,'' he said.

The United Nations is overseeing East Timor's transition to independence after the former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975 voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesia in a U.N.-run vote in August.

Indonesia's rule in East Timor was never recognised by the United Nations or most foreign governments and many East Timorese community leaders consider Indonesian assets there to have been taken from the Timorese people in the first place.

The independence vote triggered a violent backlash by pro-Jakarta militias who, with the help of elements of the Indonesian military, went on a bloody rampage and destroyed virtually every town and village in the territory.

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