Subject: AFP - Ana Gomes and XANANA meet in Cipinang  
From: "Paula" <>

Portuguese envoy, Timorese resistance leader discuss prevention of war

JAKARTA, Feb 5 (AFP) - Portuguese envoy to Indonesia Ana Gomes and jailed East Timor resistance leader Xanana Gusmao Friday discussed ways to avert civil war in the troubled territory if it is freed by Indonesia.

Gusmao, talking to the press after the meeting at the Cipinang jail where he is serving a 20-year jail sentence, said he and Gomes had "essentially" discussed the possibility of the formation of a commission for stability in East Timor.

"We also talked about how to avoid a civil war and violence and how Portugal can help in this aspect," Gusmao said.

The idea of a commission was first aired by Gusmao in talks with former East Timorese governor Mario Viegas Carrascalao on Wednesday.

The commission, he said, should gather leaders of the different factions in East Timor and work for reconciliation and prepare for independence.

Tension has heightened in East Timor since Jakarta's surprise announcement last week that it was prepared to free East Timor if its offer for special autonomy for the territory was rejected by the population there.

Pro-autonomy and pro-independence groups have begun to consolidate their respective positions, holding demonstrations to promote their causes.

Pro-Indonesian activists have also called for arms from Jakarta to defend themselves.

Gusmao declined to give further details about his talks with Gomes, the first Portuguese envoy to Indonesia since Lisbon severed diplomatic relations with Jakarta shortly after Indonesian troops invaded East Timor in 1975.

"We discussed everything that is important for East Timor," Gomes told journalists after the three-hour meeting.

Gusmao welcomed the presence of a Portuguese representative in Indonesia saying it would be herald a new climate of relations between the two peoples and governments.

He said Gomes "is here to help Portugal obtain first hand information of every event in East Timor and to know more about the Indonesian people because the problem of East Timor has ended a very long relation between Portugal and Indonesia."

Asked about his expectations for a planned meeting between Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama and his Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas in New York starting Sunday, Gusmao said: "I think it will have a good result."

"If we observe the recent development ... I think we have to be optimistic," he said.

Alatas has said the meeting will be to review progress in the talks between the two under the auspices of the UN secretary general over a UN-backed Indonesian proposal for an autonomy for East Timor.

They will also discuss Indonesia's announcement last week about possible independence for the territory.

Gusmao was jailed for plotting against the state and illegal possession of weapons. Jakarta has said it will move Gusmao to house arrest next week, in a compromise to meet a request for his release from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The move will also allow Gusmao greater participation in efforts to seek a peaceful settlement to the question of East Timor, annexed by Indonesia in 1976 in a move never recognized by the United Nations.

Indonesia and Portugal on January 30 respectively opened an interests section -- the lowest form of diplomatic representation -- in Lisbon and Jakarta.

The Portuguese interest section is in the Dutch Royal embassy here while the Indonesian interest section is in the Royal Thai embassy in Lisbon.

©AFP 1999

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