Subject: RT: U.N. chief says E. Timor violence endangers talks
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 21:45:45 -0500
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From: Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 00:28:43 EST Subject: U.N. chief says E. Timor violence endangers talks X-Mailer: AOL 4.0 for Windows 95 sub 4 To: "undisclosed-recipients:;"

Straits Times 26 Feb 1999

U.N. chief says E. Timor violence endangers talks

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 25 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday he was "very disturbed" by violence in East Timor, where panicked Indonesian troops were reported to have fired on pro-independence youths, killing one and injuring eight others.

The incident on Wednesday was the latest bloodshed in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony of 800,000 people controlled by Indonesia. Tension has mounted since Jakarta said it may grant the province independence if East Timorese reject a proposal for autonomy within Indonesia.

"The secretary-general is very disturbed by the reports of violence in East Timor," U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.

"He continues to urge peace and calm especially at a time when the political process is advancing in a positive direction. He believes that continued violence would be disruptive to that progress," the spokesman added.

East Timor has for more than 20 years been the center of a dispute that earned Jakarta international notoriety for its army's brutal rule in the territory.

The United Nations has been conducting talks between Indonesia and Portugal on an autonomy package, which are set to resume in New York on March 9-10. The package is to be presented to the Timorese, who are expected to reject it because a majority are believed to prefer independence.

The current impasse is over how the Timorese would make known their opinion of autonomy -- an arrangement that would give them internal political control over their affairs but leave defense and foreign relations in Jakarta's hands.

Portugal has said the United Nations has no option but to propose a vote. Indonesia wants to avoid a referendum, apparently fearing other regions would seek similar votes.

One proposal to break the impasse is for East Timorese to elect an assembly that then would vote on the autonomy package, a senior British official disclosed. But it is by no means clear that Indonesia would accept the proposal.

If autonomy is rejected, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas has said Indonesian troops would move out and the territory would revert to the administration of Portugal early next year.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 after Portugal abandoned the territory following its own revolution. Jakarta annexed it the following year in a move never recognized by the United Nations.

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