Subject: AFP: Portugal to discuss troop levels w/ UN
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 1998 10:36:55 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Agence France Presse October 31, 1998 03:19 GMT
Portugal to discuss Indonesian troop levels in East Timor with UN official LISBON, Oct 31
Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama will meet a United Nations official in Vienna Tuesday to discuss reports that Indonesian troop levels in East Timor are higher than admitted, a reliable source said.
Gama's spokesman Horacio Cesar said meanwhile that the reports went against an undertaking given in August by Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas to Gama and UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.
Alatas had pledged to reduce gradually the troop presence in the former Portuguese colony which was annexed by Jakarta in 1976 after Lisbon moved out, Cesar said.
The source said Gama would be discussing the development with Annan's special representative Jamsheed Marker.
According to apparently confidential Indonesian military documents circulating among foreign journalists and said by Western embassies to be close to their own tallies, there were 17,834 troops in East Timor by the end of July.
But Indonesian Armed Forces chief General Wiranto said it was a "lie" that the troops in East Timor numbered 17,000. He did not say what the real figure was, but military authorities have indicated that it was some 11,500 in mid-August.
Indonesia sent troops to the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year.
But the United Nations continues to regard Lisbon as the official administrator of East Timor and its secretary general has sponsored peace talks between Portugal and Indonesia since 1983.
The documents back up statements by East Timorese leaders, including Nobel laureate Carlos Belo and jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao disputing Jakarta's claims it had reduced its combat elements in the territory. em/mb