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Subject: LUSA: Rais ready to act as mediator
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 07:42:33 -0500 (EST)
From: "Sharon R.A. Scharfe" <pet@web.net>

23 NOV 98 - 09:34 East Timor: Indonesian opposition leader says he is ready to act as mediator

Jakarta, Nov. 23 (Lusa) - Amien Rais, one of Indonesia's main opposition leaders, said in Jakarta last week he was ready to act as a mediator between the United Nations, Portugal and Indonesia to solve the issue of East Timor. Rais reportedly made the announcement after a meeting with jailed East Timorese armed resistance leader Xanana Gusmão at the Cipinang Prison on the outskirts of Jakarta last week.

Rais also told reporters after the meeting with Gusmão that the people of East Timor should be allowed to choose between independence and continued integration into Indonesia. Rais, who heads the National Mandate Party, said a referendum should finally decide the fate of East Timor. "If the referendum is done, the result will be respected," Rais said outsided the prison where Gusmão is serving a 20-year term for fighting for his occupied home land's freedom. "Although I and my political party agree with the referendum, the implementation would need a transitional period," Rais said. However, Indonesian President BJ Habibie has categorically ruled out the possibility of independence for East Timor.-Lusa nnnn

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