|Subject: LUSA: Guterres Reminds
Sukarnoputri of Importance of Territory
23 Jul 01 19:10 East Timor: Guterres Reminds Sukarnoputri of Importance of Territory
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres welcomed Monday the rise to the Indonesian presidency of Megawati Sukarnoputri, assuring her of Lisbon's commitment towards "working to deepen bilateral relations at all levels".
In a letter to Sukarnoputri, who was sworn into office on Monday, replacing the sacked Abdurrahman Wahid, Guterres also highlighted the importance of the ongoing independence process in East Timor.
"I have no doubts that Indonesia will be able to successfully materialize changes, to guarantee a stable democracy and ensure prosperous progress benefitting Indonesian citizens and the region", the Portuguese prime minister's letter states.
Guterres reaffirms his government's "profound interest" in maintaining "fruitful dialogue and cooperation on issues of common interest".
"I refer particularly to East Timor, whose independence process will soon turn a new page with the holding of constituent assembly elections", he adds in the letter to Sukarnoputri.
Earlier Monday, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in East Timor told Lusa in Dili that reports from the border with Indonesian West Timor indicated that the atmosphere was "calmer than usual", despite the ongoing political upheaval in Jakarta.
The campaign period for the East Timorese elections began on July 15. Voters in the UN-run territory will on August 30 elect the 88 members of an assembly whose main duty will be to draw up the future national constitution.
Portugal's ambassador in Jakarta, Ana Gomes, said Monday that Megawati Sukarnoputri's rise to power in Indonesia could be a good harbinger for East Timor.
"Having a leader in Jakarta that commands respect and has authority is essential to make Jakarta's policies observed throughout the territory, namely in West Timor", which borders UN-administered East Timor, Gomes told Lusa.
"Many times the difficulties we faced over the last two years were due to hearing the correct words but with a lack of capacity to apply them on the terrain", she added, referring to sacked President Abdurrahman Wahid.
Megawati, Gomes said, was a leader who "cares about Indonesia's international image" and would not fail "to consider the reality in East Timor", which voted for independence 23 months ago after 24 years of Indonesian occupation.
The ambassador said it was "sad" to see Wahid dismissed by parliament after the "extraordinary role" he played in normalizing relations with Lisbon, East Timor's former colonial ruler, and Dili.
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