Subject: Gusmao Ready To Bring About Foreign Invest In East Timor

Gusmao Ready To Bring About Foreign Invest In East Timor

DILI, East Timor, Nov. 7 (AP) -- East Timorese independence leader and leading presidential candidate Xanana Gusmao said Wednesday he was ready to help foreign businesses invest in his war-ravaged homeland.

He said he would use the fledgling nation's Veterans Association - a grouping of former rebel fighters and their families, which he leads - to act as a local partner for Indonesian, Chinese and Singaporean investors.

Gusmao said four projects were in the pipeline. They included a satellite phone service for remote areas, a transport company, a bank and a discount retail market.

He didn't say how much the projects were worth, but said they would provide much needed employment.

East Timor is one of the poorest corners in Asia after centuries of colonial misrule by Portugal and 24 years of corrupt and repressive Indonesian occupation that ended bloodshed and destruction two years ago after a U.N.-sponsored independence ballot.

Much of its infrastructure lies in ruins, destroyed by pro-Indonesian militias after the tiny territory of 800,000 people voted overwhelmingly to break away from Indonesia.

The territory is now being administered by the United Nations, which is encouraging foreign investors to team up with local partners.

"The Veterans Association will act as a bridge between the companies and our members. The association will only make a small profit to help widows, old people and orphans," Gusmao said.

East Timor is scheduled to be granted full independence next May. Gusmao has said he will stand for election to be its first president.

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