Subject: RT: JRH on UN deal
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 1998 09:36:17 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Resistance leader welcomes East Timor progress 05:57 p.m Aug 05, 1998 Eastern
By Alcina Monteiro LISBON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - East Timor resistance leader Jose Ramos-Horta on Wednesday welcomed a deal between Portugal and Indonesia to open talks on autonomy for the Indonesian-occupied territory, but he cautioned that any final accord would need to be put to a referendum.
``It is what I have been defending for years...a dialogue with no preconditions,'' the Nobel peace laureate told Reuters at the Lisbon Expo 98 world fair where East Timor has an exhibit.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama and his Indonesian counterpart, Ali Alatas, agreed in New York to discuss in detail an Indonesian plan for wide-ranging autonomy for East Timor.
Jakarta annexed the eastern half of the island in 1976, two years after Lisbon abandoned its former colony, but the international community has never recognised its rule.
The two countries, which have no diplomatic ties, will also open special interests sections in each others capitals by the end of the year as a move to ease tension.
The accord to discuss the autonomy plan came after both set aside demands which had blocked progress for years.
Indonesia had previously sought recognition of its sovereignty, while Portugal had insisted on a prior commitment to consult the impoverished territory of 800,000 people through a referendum.
Jakarta rejects a popular vote saying that its troops were welcomed by the East Timorese because of the chaos in which the territory had been left by the Portuguese withdrawal.
Wednesdays communique said that the talks on autonomy, which will be held initially at senior official level, would be ``without prejudice to their basic positions of principle.''
But Ramos-Horta, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 jointly with the Roman Catholic bishop of Dili, Carlos Belo, said that Indonesia should now quickly free resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.
He noted that Gusmao, who has been jailed in Jakarta since 1992, had not set his freedom as a condition for any moves towards improving relations between Indonesia and Portugal, notably through the opening of special interests sections.
However, the resistance leader needed to be brought quickly into the talks on the future of the territory, Ramos-Horta said.
``We are beginning to believe that we cannot allow negotiations to advance very far without Xanana being free,'' he said.
Once the talking was over, there could be no question about the final say on the future of the territory lying with the people of East Timor. ``It (any accord) can only be accepted if it is accepted by the people,'' he said.
The need for an eventual referendum was echoed by Bishop Belo, who is in Lisbon to receive Portugals Order of Liberty, one of the countrys highest decorations, at a ceremony set for Thursday.
``In the last few months and weeks, there has been a growing tendency to reject the autonomy offered by the Indonesian government,'' the bishop told journalists.
``The people want a referendum...and I go along with what the people choose,'' he added.
Horta says no E. Timor talks without rebel leader 01:08 a.m. Aug 06, 1998 Eastern
SYDNEY, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Nobel peace laureate and East Timor resistance leader Jose Ramos-Horta said on Thursday he would not take part in U.N.-sponsored talks between Indonesia and Portugal on autonomy for the Indonesian-occupied territory.
Indonesia and Portugal on Wednesday agreed to talks on granting the disputed territory ``special status, based on a wide-ranging autonomy.''
Horta said Indonesia must release all political prisoners, including East Timor rebel leader Jose ``Xanana'' Gusmao, before talks can take place and that Gusmao must be involved.
``I am not going to continue to act as his proxy while he remains in prison,'' Horta told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio from Portugal.
``I will not continue to engage in dialogue myself with Indonesia or the U.N. while Xanana remains in prison. They have to talk to him and to talk to him they have to release him.''
But Horta rejected any personal involvement in such talks, saying negotiations over East Timors future would be ``unworkable'' without Xananas release and involvement.
``They cannot pretend that they are serious, that they want to resolve the problem of East Timor and then do not wish to release Xanana Gusmao,'' Horta said.
``Xanana is the only political leader with real acceptance, credibility among the people of East Timor,'' he said.
``If we are going to make serious discussions, serious decisions, Xanana has to be part of it, he has to agree with it, because any decision without his involvement is premature and is going to be rejected by the people of East Timor.
``Indonesia should be aware of that.''
Horta said he would personally accept autonomy only as an initial step towards full independence for East Timor, but added that the East Timorese would not accept as a precondition the recognition of Indonesias annexation of the territory.
``That is totally unacceptable and I can tell you it is not workable. The people in East Timor would go to the streets in the tens of thousands to protest,'' Horta said.
``Lets talk about genuine autonomy as part of a genuine transitional arrangement and who knows, in five years from now or three and we go to a referendum, it could be that the majority of people might want to join Indonesia in the end,'' Horta said.
``But this will have to be a decision made by the people of East Timor in a referendum.''