|Subject: AFP - Annan holds "very
constructive" ETimor meeting with ministers
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Received from Joyo: *Annan holds "very constructive" ETimor meeting with ministers
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 7 (AFP) - UN chief Kofi Annan held "very constructive" talks Sunday on East Timor with Portugal and Indonesia after Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas clarified Jakarta's independence offer.
Annan spoke to reporters outside his New York residence after holding an hour- long meeting with Alatas, Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama and UN special representative Jamsheed Marker.
"We've had a very constructive meeting," said Annan, before leaving for the funeral of Jordan's King Hussein.
Alatas stressed to reporters that wide-ranging autonomy plans being negotiated with Portugal through the United Nations remained the "best solution" as far as Jakarta was concerned.
"We hope that by April at the latest we can have a model that we can show to the Indonesian people and of course to the East Timorese," Alatas said.
Reaffirming Jakarta's opposition to a referendum, Alatas said that "the methodology still has to be discussed" as to how the East Timorese would be consulted on the autonomy plan.
"But if and when they reject it, then we are not going to accept a proposal that we give autonomy and then, in three to five years, independence. No let's go straight," he said.
Alatas said that if the autonomy plan was rejected, East Timor would revert to its 1976 position as "a non self-governing territory with Portugal as its administering territory and still within the fold of the UN."
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year, in a move never recognised by the United Nations.
Gama said that in the light of Indonesia's new position, made public on January 27, "obviously all this problem is coming into a new direction."
Gama added he had asked Annan to "create a mission for monitoring the second option of Indonesia" to prepare East Timor for independence.
The UN-sponsored talks on broad-ranging autonomy were to continue here later Sunday and Monday at ministerial level.
Senior officials from both countries reached agreement Friday on technical details, but political input was needed from the two ministers as the talks moved into a new phase on the territory's final status.
Alatas categorically denied Indonesia was arming civilians in East Timor in a move said to be fuelling violence.
Annan said Indonesia had promised "they will make sure that the violence does not increase in the region, and that they would also not interfere with the democratic rights of the people."