|Subject: LUSA: Dili, Jakarta Delegations
Sign Accords Smoothing Relations
Australian: E Timor buries hatchet with Jakarta
25 Feb 02 12:38
East Timor: Dili, Jakarta Delegations Sign Accords Smoothing Relations
East Timor and Indonesia signed a series of good-neighbor accords Monday at a high-level meeting on the island of Bali, ahead of "triangular" talks with Australia on Tuesday.
The bilateral agreements, which come less than three months before East Timor´s declaration of independence, include Jakarta´s granting Dili a land corridor to its OeCussi enclave and a postal service accord.
An accord on the free movement of people and goods across the common border would be signed Tuesday, officials said.
Dili´s delegation to the back-to-back meetings in Denpasar is led by UN transition administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello, Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri and Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta.
Jakarta´s team is headed by Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.
Both sides underlined the increasing normality of relations between Indonesia and the territory it occupied by force for 24 years.
However, in an opening statement, Vieira de Mello said "nothing would be a better, more eloquent demonstration" of good relations than for Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri to attend Dili´s May 20 independence celebrations.
Alkatiri reinforced the theme, underlining "the great pleasure" Dili would have in "welcoming" Megawati and Jakarta cabinet ministers.
The chief minister stressed his government´s commitment to building "mature, fruitful and friendly" relations with its giant neighbor, underlining Dili´s hopes the two sides could eventually "demilitarize" their common border.
Alkatiri also urged "urgent" action to settle the plight of some 70,000 East Timorese refugees still in Indonesian West Timor.
In his opening comments, Wirajuda said Jakarta was committed "to taking new initiatives to strengthen our relation as neighbors and to construct a strong relationship for the future".
The talks continue Tuesday in a triangular fashion with an Australian delegation led by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
E Timor buries hatchet with Jakarta
By DON GREENLEES
THREE months before a formal declaration of independence in East Timor, the leaders of the new nation are setting aside old grievances with Indonesia in the hope of building a stable and productive relationship with their nearest and biggest neighbour.
Despite a raft of unresolved diplomatic issues and the slowness of Indonesian justice over human rights abuses in East Timor, the former resistance leaders set to head the first independent government have stressed the importance of a pragmatic accommodation with Jakarta.
At the opening of a one-day meeting in Bali between the Indonesian Government and the UN-led transitional government of East Timor, East Timorese chief minister Mari Alkatiri stressed the goal of building a "mature and normal relationship".
Mr Alkatiri, who was forced into exile during Indonesia's occupation and is expected to be East Timor's first prime minister, said the East Timorese sought practical co-operation on a range of important issues, including border security, the return of refugees and unresolved administrative issues connected to Indonesian rule.
"We will always have a special and very important relationship with Indonesia," Mr Alkatiri told a 30-strong delegation headed by Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.
Similarly cordial statements and promises of co-operation came from the Indonesian side during opening addresses to the meeting. But diplomatically more important was what was not said.
In this significant bilateral forum, the East Timorese avoided publicly pressuring Indonesia over the slow and inadequate response to human rights crimes committed by departing Indonesian security forces and their proxy militia in East Timor in late 1999.
Only now, more than two years after those events, has Jakarta lodged a small number of indictments against alleged culprits. The legal process in East Timor has moved with greater speed, but suffers a singular handicap: most of the wanted men are in Indonesia.
A memorandum of understanding signed between the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor and the Indonesian Government theoretically provides for extradition, although there is no likelihood of Indonesia's agreeing to give up anyone.
The East Timorese delegation to the talks, comprising Mr Alkatiri, UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello and senior minister Jose Ramos Horta, have taken the view that publicly urging Indonesia to fast-track justice would only cause embarrassment and be counter-productive.
Yesterday's meeting stuck to more comfortable territory to do with the mechanics of the relationship, such as the signing of a postal agreement.
For now, leaders of the would-be East Timorese republic are anxious to get relations on a sound long-term basis. To that end, they have signalled their hopes President Megawati Sukarnoputri will attend the May 20 declaration of independence in Dili. Mr De Mello said yesterday that "nothing would be a more eloquent illustration of how far relations have come " than for such a visit to occur.
But the effusive offer belies real doubts over whether Ms Megawati, either for reasons of personal unhappiness or domestic political expediency, will be willing to take up the invitation.
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