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Subject: AFP: Gusmao pledges support for UN peace talks
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 10:28:21 +0000
From: Tapol

Received from Joyo

Jailed East Timor rebel leader pledges support for peace talks

JAKARTA, Dec 17 (AFP) - Jailed East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao on Thursday pledged his support for the ongoing UN-sponsored talks to formulate an autonomy formula for the troubled territory of East Timor, a visiting UN envoy said.

"He has promised his support for the continuation of these negotiations and this process," Jamsheed Marker, the UN special envoy on East Timor, told journalists after meeting Xanana at Jakarta's Cipinang jail.

Marker, who met with Xanana for some 80 minutes, said that he and the resistance leader had discussed "all aspects" of the current negotiations.

"The important thing is now to maintain peace (in East Timor). I again stress the importance of this because the negotiations are in an advanced stage," Marker said.

"It is very important that we should have a peaceful climate and peaceful atmosphere in which these (negotiations) can be carried out."

Marker, who is the personal envoy of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, declined comment on reports of increased Indonesian military activities in several districts of the former Portuguese colony, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, and annexed a year later.

The reports followed a resurgence of attacks by independence supporters on Indonesian troops, including last month's assault on a military outpost in Alas sub-district.

The United Nations and most states continue to view Lisbon as the administrator of East Timor, and do not recognize the 1976 annexation.

The UN secretary-general's office has sponsored a dialogue between Indonesia and Portugal since 1983 to find a settlement for the troubled territory.

In New York, officials from Portugal and Indonesia are currently negotiating a Jakarta proposal for wide-ranging autonomy for East Timor.

Xanana earlier this week told the Portuguese news agency LUSA that autonomy for East Timor should only be temporary, for 10 years, after which a referendum for self-determination can be prepared.

In a joint letter signed with two other East Timorese leaders earlier this month, Xanana also called on youths in East Timor to refrain from resorting to violence.

Reports of alleged military violence on civilians in East Timor had prompted Portugal to briefly suspend talks on the autonomy proposal in New York.

But the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has visited the troubled area, said they have seen no evidence of the alleged widespread violence.

Marker, who arrived in Jakarta Tuesday, said he will leave for a two day-visit to East Timor on Friday.

On Wednesday, Marker met with two top Indonesian generals, the head of the military intelligence agency, Major General Zacky Anwar Makarim, and the head of the military's territorial affairs, Lieutenant General Bambang Yudoyono.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 1420 80153 Email: Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh, 1973-1998

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