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Subject: AFP: Portugal wants creation of permanent UN office in East Timor
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 13:16:37 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <etan@etan.org>

Portugal wants creation of permanent UN office in East Timor LISBON, Nov 24

Portugal wants to see the creation of a permanent United Nations office in its troubled former territory East Timor, where reports say Indonesian troops have massacred civilians, Portuguese newspaper Publico said Tuesday. The newspaper said that the Indonesian military, which invaded the island in 1976, had thrown a security cordon around the island's southern Alas region, where unconfirmed reports said troops had recently massacred dozens of women and children.

Publico said the army was making it impossible for independent agencies "to establish the true number of civilians killed in the past few days" in Alas, an isolated area.

It added: "Only a permanent UN office in East Timor will enable the respect of human rights to go hand-in-hand with the reduction of Indonesian forces which has been promised by Jakarta."

Following the reports, the Portuguese government suspended ongoing talks on the future of East Timor with Indonesia, taking place in New York under the aegis of the UN.

"The Portuguese government asked its representatives to put their discussions on hold in order to take a closer look at this affair. The UN promised to collect information (on the alleged massacres) and pass them on to diplomats from both countries," said Publico.

But the newspaper said this might prove the difficulty of finding dependable independent information on what was happening in East Timor, which could strengthen Portugal's case for the creation of a permanent UN office there. The Red Cross said on Tuesday it had found "no confirmation" of the atrocities, as more than 1,000 students protested for a second day in the troubled territory's capital.

Indonesian troops invaded the former Portuguese territory, around 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) east of Jakarta, in 1975, and annexed it the following year. The United Nations still recognizes Lisbon as the official administrator.

em/gj/ml

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