Subject: S Korea Pledges Support For East Timor

Associated Press January 28, 2000

S Korea Pledges Support For East Timor

SEOUL (AP)--South Korea will help East Timor rebuild itself as an independent country, Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Lee Joung-binn said Friday in a meeting with East Timorese independence leader Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao.

Gusmao met Lee and South Korean Defense Minister Cho Sung-tae to discuss South Korean support for East Timor's transition to independence.

Gusmao also met South Korean business leaders and asked them to invest in building ports, roads and airports in East Timor.

"South Korea will positively support reconstruction of East Timor, which will become the first state to achieve independence in the 21st century," Lee was quoted by his spokesman as saying during the meeting with Gusmao.

South Korea has dispatched 419 troops as part of an Australian-led international peacekeeping force in East Timor. It also plans to donate $1 million in aid for reconstruction in East Timor.

Gusmao will meet President Kim Dae-jung on Saturday before ending his four-day trip Sunday.

Gusmao's visit to South Korea is part of a six-nation Asia trip, which also includes stops in China, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.

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