Subject: Ramos-Horta's Media Release on Coalition's new stand on ET
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 23:08:23 +1100
From: East Timor Relief Association <etra@pactok.net>

12 January 1999

NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE PRAISES AUSTRALIA OVER EAST TIMOR POLICY

"It requires courage and vision as well as statesmanship to reverse an old published policy. I commend Prime Minister John Howard and the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer for their decision in attempting a new policy that is more consistent with the values shared by the Australian community, values of human freedom and dignity". Jose Ramos-Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Laureate said this afternoon.

"Recognition of the right of the people of East Timor to self-determination, a call for Xanana's release, consultation with the people of East Timor regarding the future, a genuine democratic and interim arrangement until a final settlement of the East Timor conflict are the main elements of the announced policy. This is consistent with my long-standing views about how to resolve the conflict in East Timor.

My first reading of the policies as reported in the press suggest that the East Timorese and the Australian Government have now more points in agreement than disagreement," said Mr Ramos-Horta.

"Australia has proven to be a reliable partner in the region as shown during the current economic and financial crisis. It has offered considerable economic assistance and understanding to the countries in distress. Therefore Indonesia should look at this Australian initiative as coming from a friendly country. Australia has suffered too much embarrassment over its East Timor policies because of Indonesia's behaviour. This is a time to change and Indonesia should also welcome this change," said Mr Ramos Horta.

"In conclusion," Josť Ramos-Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Laureate said, "the East Timorese people and resistance leadership have in Xanana Gusmao an extraordinary leader who will do his part in working for a prudent and peaceful evolution of the East Timor conflict. We have shown to be responsible and mature people."

Contact: InÍs Almeida 0414 989158 (Sydney)

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