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Subject: AFP: East Timor bishop reluctant to meet Habibie
Date: Sun, 27 Dec 1998 12:37:43 +0000
From: Tapol

Received from Joyo

East Timor bishop reluctant to meet Indonesian president

JAKARTA, Dec 26 (AFP) - East Timor Bishop Carlos Ximenes Felipe Belo has declined an invitation from Indonesia's President B.J. Habibie to meet in the New Year, a report here said Saturday.

The Kompas daily quoted Nobel peace laureate Belo as saying he would meet the president only after Jakarta put into effect 13 measures he had suggested for the troubled territory during a June meeting with Habibie.

"Had the 13 points been realised in East Timor, I would go to Jakarta and give an evaluation of their implementation," Belo said at his residence in the East Timor capital Dili.

Habibie said Thursday he wanted to meet with Belo and another East Timor bishop after the New Year to evaluate the outcome of an agreement between him and Belo during their first talks in June and to address possible new problems.

But Belo questioned the value of a new meeting, saying it was the job of East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares to discuss with Habibie the situation in the former Portuguese colony.

"Governor Abilio all this time has been going back and forth between Dili and Jakarta. Was there no time to report the situation in East Timor to President Habibie?" Belo asked.

Among the 13 points Belo suggested to help settle the East Timor problem were a gradual withdrawal of Indonesian troops, a referendum for self- determination, the teaching of the local Tetum language and Portuguese in schools and a requirement for migrants to have a job or skills before coming to the territory.

The bishop's meeting with Habibie on June 24 came a month after the resignation of former president Suharto, who ordered the military invasion of East Timor in 1975 and its annexation the following year.

At the June meeting Habibie offered wide-ranging autonomy for East Timor, which the United Nations and most states still view as officially administered by Portugal.

The proposal is currently being negotiated by Indonesia and Portugal in talks held under the auspices of the UN secretary general.

Habibie also promised the gradual withdrawal of Indonesian military forces from East Timor, but has ruled out granting a referendum on self- determination.

Jailed East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao has said autonomy should be conditional on a promise for the referendum to be held after 10 years.

Calls for the release of Xanana, who is serving a 20-year jail term for plotting against the state and illegal possession of weapons, have been made by Belo, many foreign governments and by the UN special envoy on East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, who ended a nine-day visit here on Wednesday.

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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