Subject: Indonesia's Wahid Apologizes To E Timor For Militia Acts

Associated Press February 29, 2000

Indonesia's Wahid Apologizes To E Timor For Militia Acts

DILI, East Timor (AP)--Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid Tuesday apologized to East Timorese leaders for the damage wrought by pro-Jakarta militiamen and their Indonesian army backers following an independence vote in a U.N.-supervised referendum on Aug. 30.

Wahid, a democratic reformer, arrived in East Timor earlier Tuesday in a historic attempt at reconciliation with a nation destroyed by Indonesia's military during its savage, 24-year occupation.

Indonesian officials said Wahid apologized to East Timor's leaders for the destruction wrought.

Indonesia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab, who is accompanying Wahid, signed a joint communique with U.N. chief administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello, which paves the way for diplomatic relations between East Timor and its former master.

Later, Wahid laid a wreath at the Santa Cruz graveyard where Indonesian troops massacred 200 unarmed civilians in 1991. He also placed a wreath at a nearby cemetery where hundreds of Indonesian soldiers killed during the occupation were buried.

His trip comes as Indonesian prosecutors prepare to lay charges against military officers and militia members for the murder and destruction that gripped the territory in the aftermath of the independence vote last year.

Security was heavy throughout the visit, with hundreds of armed peacekeepers lining the seven-kilometer route from the airport to the center of town. Dozens of troops, including sharpshooters, took up positions around the U.N. building and at the two cemeteries.

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