Subject: Indonesia's Foreign Min Urges UN To Return To West Timor

Associated Press January 12, 2001

Indonesia's Foreign Min Urges UN To Return To West Timor

JAKARTA (AP)--Indonesia's foreign minister Friday called on U.N. aid workers to return to West Timor saying it was "100% safe" for them to go back after three of their colleagues were murdered there last year.

Alwi Shihab said security in West Timor had significantly improved since the three U.N. humanitarian officials were killed by a pro-Indonesian militia mob Sept. 6.

The killings - the worst attack ever against the world body's civilian staff - led to the evacuation of all aid workers from the territory.

"I strongly believe it is safe and security is under control," Shihab said. "We can guarantee that 100%."

There are still about 120,000 refugees in camps in West Timor. They were forced from their homes by pro-Jakarta militias last year after most East Timorese voted to break away from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored ballot.

The world body is expected to dispatch a security-evaluation team to the region later this month and it will recommend if it was safe for aid workers to return.

Thursday, six militiamen went on trial in Jakarta for the U.N. killings.

The trial comes after months of intense international pressure on Indonesia to disarm the militias sheltering in West Timor and bring to justice those responsible for the slayings.

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