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Subject: CNN/Reuters - U.N Timor envoy plays down airport drama
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 12:01:28 -0000
From: "Paula Carvalho Pinto" <>

U.N Timor envoy plays down airport drama

December 21, 1998 Web posted at: 9:47 AM EST (1447 GMT)

JAKARTA, Dec 21 (Reuters) -- U.N. special envoy on East Timor Jamsheed Marker on Monday made light of an incident in which he was airlifted from the troubled province on Sunday after pro-independence protesters invaded the airport.

Asked on Monday about the occupation of Dili's Komoro airport, Marker said: "I occupied the airport, then I left quite happily."

About 500 people, some armed with machetes, broke through security lines and stormed the airport as Marker was waiting to catch a commercial flight after a brief visit to the former Portuguese colony.

As protesters occupied the runway, he was flown out by military helicopter instead of catching the commercial flight.

On Monday, Marker met armed forces chief General Wiranto to discuss the situation in East Timor, where Indonesia maintains a heavy military force in the face of a low-level guerrilla war by separatists.

Marker is due to meet President B.J. Habibie and Foreign Minister Ali Alatas on Tuesday, before winding up his nine-day visit on Thursday.

Indonesia and Portugal are due to resume U.N.-sponsored talks on the fate of East Timor early in the new year.

Indonesia invaded the eastern half of Timor island in 1975 after Portugal abandoned its colony. The United Nations does not recognise Jakarta's rule and still regards Portugal as the administering power.

Copyright 1998 Reuters. All rights reserved. © 1998 Cable News Network, Inc.

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