Subject: AFP: No agreement at Austria talks
Date: Thu, 05 Nov 1998 15:01:29 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
East Timorese split on demands at UN-brokered talks By Michael Thurston KRUMBACH, Austria, Nov 3 (AFP) - UN-sponsored talks between East Timorese leaders broke down Tuesday without agreement on their demands for the future of the former Portuguese colony, delegates said.
The four-day talks failed to reach a compromise between supporters of integration with Jakarta and a group, mostly of exiles, which wants a referendum on independence for the territory, annexed by Indonesia in 1976. The main sticking points was disagreement among the 40 delegates over whether to call in a joint declaration for the release of jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.
"We have not (agreed) because some of the pro-Indonesian elements are civil servants of Indonesia," 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta, head of the pro-referendum group, told AFP.
He said agreement had been reached on 11 out of 12 points. But he lamented the pro-integrationists "continue to refuse to sign a demand for the release of the resistance leader Xanana Gusmao," he said.
Splits meanwhile also emerged among Horta's pro-referendum group, with several delegates criticizing their leader's decision to walk out of the talks without consulting them.
The UN-backed talks, the fourth such annual inter-Timorese meeting organized by the United Nations, began on Saturday at a castle in Krumbach, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Vienna.
Indonesia invated East Timor in 1975 and annexed the territory a year later in a move never recognized by the United Nations.
The United Nations has been attempting to broker a political settlement since 1983, but the talks have gained new momentum since the ouster of Indonesian President Suharto in May.
Delegates had kept talking until dawn Tuesday in a bid to iron out their differences, which focus on a UN autonomy plan for East Timor. Hardliners, many of whom live in exile, want a referendum on independence.
The pro-integration group lamented the failure to agree a joint declaration. "I am very disappointed as I consider it is a failure .. we have just shown a sign of our immaturity," said delegate Abilio Araujo.
UN representative Tamrat Samuel denied the talks were a failure.
"I would not call this meeting a failure because they have exhaustively discussed the key issues," he told AFP. The meeting had "made a very important contribution to the process which is continuing," he added.
He was speaking before a meeting later in the day between UN special representative on East Timor Jamsheed Marker and Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama.
Marker, who opened the talks Saturday with a call for the East Timorese to agree on their common goals rapidly, was also due to brief the Indonesian ambassador to Vienna.
The UN unveiled an autonomy plan for East Timor last month, laying out "substantive elements designed to achieve a just, comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution to the question of East Timor." Horta meanwhile appealed to the international community to continue putting pressure on Jakarta over East Timor.
"Indonesia is thoroughly bankrupt ... and yet the Indonesian authorities continue to waste the resources of the country ... on continued occupation of East Timor," he said.
"If there is continued international pressure ... then they might think twice before continuing the war against East Timor."