Subject: Lusa: Washington Backs Early Independence Scenario

East Timor: Washington Backs Early Independence Scenario 28 Jun-13:03

The United States has expressed strong support for a timetable that would allow East Timor to hold its first elections and perhaps obtain full independence during the latter part of next year. Washington "strongly" backed such a scenario, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, said Tuesday in New York. "It would be an historic event, a positive sign for the United Nations and for the international community," Holbrooke added in support of the timetable outlined before the Security Council by the territory's UN administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Other nations involved in the process were more cautious. Australian Ambassador David Stuart warned against the risks of "unrealistic" targets, while Japan's Yukio Satoh said the UN should avoid raising hopes of resolving all East Timor's quickly. In reporting to the Security Council, Vieira de Mello forecast that elections would be held and independence could take place between Aug. 30 and early December of 2001. He also criticized the lack of flexibility on the part of the UN and delays in World Bank financing for the territory's reconstruction, which he termed his "most exasperating task."

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