Subject: RT: UN talks to resume in February
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 11:46:59 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Autonomy talks deadline missed on E Timor 05:40 p.m Nov 27, 1998 Eastern
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Portugal and Indonesia, missed their self-imposed deadline for reaching agreement on autonomy for the disputed territory of East Timor by the end of this year when they ended a new round of talks on Friday.
U.N. negotiator Jamsheed Marker said talks would resume from February 1-5. In the interim, he plans to visit East Timor on December 16 to consult with all groups.
``I am not disappointed at all,'' said Marker, a Pakistani diplomat, in answer to queries about the autonomy deadline.
``In fact I suspected something like this would happen. I want to keep up the process of negotiations,'' he said.
``I think we have gone a long way towards the autonomy process. These are very complicated and difficult matters. We have presented a very elaborate autonomy proposals to both the governments,'' Marker told reporters.
The autonomy proposals have to be agreed on before a final status for the territory is decided. Indonesia's annexation of the former Portuguese colony in 1976 is not recognised by the international community and the United Nations has long been trying to broker an acceptable solution.
In August, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and his Portuguese counterpart, Jaime Gama, hoped they could reach an agreement on the territory's ``''special status, based on a wide-ranging autonomy'' by the end of the year.
The two sides had also agreed to establish interests sections in friendly embassies in each other's capitals by the end of 1998 and to relax their visa policies.
Marker said the final text of the agreement to establish interests sections had been completed this week.
Indonesia will establish its section in the Thai embassy in Lisbon and Portugal's section in Jakarta will be in the Netherlands embassy. It will be headed by Ana Gomes, currently a senior diplomat in Portugal's U.N. mission, U.N. sources said.
This round of talks, conducted by Nugroho Wisnumurti of Indonesia and Fernando Nevis of Portugal, was halted on November 20 after reports that 44 people had been killed in a crackdown by Indonesian troops around the East Timor village of Alas, some 125 miles (200 km) east of Dili, the capital.
``At the round of talks just concluded, the various areas of autonomy were extensively discussed and the two sides not have a better understanding of each other's positions on specific issues,'' Market said
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in December 1975 and annexed it the following year.
A new opportunity opened up after economic and political turmoil in Indonesia in May ended three decades of rule by President Suharto. He was replaced by President B.J. Habibie.
But while Indonesia has spoken of giving East Timor a ``special status'' of autonomy, it has ruled out any referendum or popular vote, as called for by Portugal and those seeking independence for the territory's 800,000 predominantly Roman Catholic inhabitants.