Subject: Indonesia to Back Xanana for East Timorese Presidency

Xinhua Nres Agency July 4, 2000

Indonesia to Back Xanana for East Timorese Presidency


Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab said here Tuesday that his country will back leader of the East Timorese pro-independence group, Xanana Gusmao, as the candidate for the president of East Timor in the general election next year.

Speaking to reporters, Shihab said, "I think Xanana is a good( man). And he has a good relationship with the Indonesian government.Yes, I think so far he has a good relationship with us. "

East Timor is expected to conduct general election in August next year for the first time after the territory became independent of Indonesia through a U.N.-sponsored direct ballot in August last year.

The territory, after overwhelmingly voting in favor of independence last year, has been under the U.N. administration.

"I think Xanana has a good knowledge about Indonesia and he also knows how to cooperate with Indonesia and strengthen relations with Indonesia," Shihab said.

Shihab also said President Abdurrahman Wahid also has a good private relationship with Xanana. "So, I think, if you ask me who will be backed by the Indonesian government to be East Timor president in next year's general election, I could say that we will back Xanana's bid," the minister said.

But he added that the Indonesian government will not interfere in the domestic affairs of East Timor as the territory is no longer part of Indonesia.

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