|Subject: AP: East Timor Leader Gusmao Meets
South Africa's Mandela
Also: AFP: South Africa stands by East Timor
Associated Press March 29, 2000
East Timor Leader Gusmao Meets South Africa's Mandela
JOHANNESBURG (AP)--East Timor independence leader Jose "Xanana" Gusmao had an emotional reunion with Nelson Mandela Wednesday - the first meeting between the two since Gusmao was released from an Indonesian prison last September.
Draped in a gold-and-black East Timorese scarf presented by Gusmao, Mandela expressed delight that the man he had visited in prison in 1997 in Indonesia was now free.
"I'm happy that he is now out and he is busy trying to rebuild his country," Mandela told reporters as he stood next to Gusmao.
Gusmao, who is widely expected to become East Timor's first head of state, said that during his struggle to liberate East Timor from Indonesian military occupation and during his seven years imprisonment, he often thought of Mandela's sacrifices to overthrow apartheid.
"The example of the great man Nelson Mandela was an inspiration to me," Gusmao said of Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison in white-ruled South Africa.
Mandela, who won South Africa's first all-race elections in 1994 and retired as president last year, admitted he was a little envious of Gusmao.
"His political career lies in front of him. Mine lies behind," Mandela said. The two men met at Mandela's home in the Houghton suburb of Johannesburg.
Earlier Wednesday, Gusmao met with President Thabo Mbeki, who promised that South Africa would continue to support East Timor during its transition to independence and beyond.
Mbeki told reporters in Pretoria that immediate assistance would include diplomatic pressure to stop the arming and training of anti-independence militia.
South Africa has already agreed to a U.N. request to help rebuild East Timor's public administration and police.
Gusmao said East Timor needed diplomatic pressure to stop destabilization efforts and training programs to help the East Timorese run their country.
"We need security to make sure than transition to independence goes smoothly. This means that groups in the Indonesian military must stop helping the militia," he said.
--- Agence France Presse March 29, 2000, Wednesday
South Africa stands by East Timor PRETORIA, March 29 South Africa will help East Timor rebuild itself after it 24-year struggle for independence, President Thabo Mbeki said Wednesday after meeting the territory's veteran resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.
Gusmao told reporters that his one-day working visit to South Africa was to thank Pretoria for its support of the independence struggle and to ask for continued assistance as war-ravaged East Timor becomes a free nation.
"We need security to make sure than transition to independence goes smoothly.
"This means that groups in the Indonesian military must stop helping the (anti-independence) militia," said Gusmao, leader of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, who arrived Wednesday after a trip to neighbouring Mozambique.
"We also came to ask for help in building human resources as we come from a long period of activism," he added.
Mbeki said South Africa would take up the security issue with the Indonesian government.
This would include diplomatic pressure to stop the arming and training of anti-independence militia, he said.
South Africa would also query the slow delivery of EU support to East Timor at the African summit with the European Union in Cairo next week, Mbeki said.
He said South Africa had already agreed to a United Nations' request to help rebuild East Timor's public administration and police.
The UN Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) took over authority of East Timor from the Indonesian government in October has estimated that independence would come only in two to three years.
Gusmao, who was imprisoned by Indonesian authorities in 1992 and released last year, later paid an emotional visit to former president Nelson Mandela, who had called in 1998 for his release from prison.
"I'll never forget the time Mandela walked into the prison and asked the warder to see me. It really touched me," Gusmao said afterwards.
He said Mandela, himself a political prisoner for 27 years, was an inspiration to him and the people of East Timorese.
"The East Timorese people must follow his (Gusmao) courage and fight for freedom," Mandela said.
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