Subject: E.Timor leaders scheduled to hold reconciliation meeting

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

The Jakarta Post January 5, 2002

East Timor leaders scheduled to hold reconciliation meeting

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A key challenge in the lead up to East Timor's independence, officially scheduled to begin on May 20, 2002, has been to bring about a reconciliation among East Timorese leaders that would pave the way for an agreement on how best to deal with the roughly 143,000 East Timorese people taking refuge in west Timor and create a permanent solution to the East Timor issue.

It has looked impossible for the refugees to return home in the absence of a reconciliation among their leaders. Key independence figure Jose Alexandre Xanana Gusmao apparently failed to convince the refugees to return home during his visit to East Nusa Tenggara in November because thus far, despite the recent Christmas holidays and the halt in humanitarian assistance, no more refugees have decided to head back to East Timor in the wake of his visit.

Col. Moeswarno Moesanip, chief of the East Nusa Tenggara Military District, revealed on Friday that East Timorese leaders were scheduled to hold a reconciliation meeting in Salele, located on the border between the province and East Timor on Jan. 8-9, 2002.

Moesanip made the statement after a meeting with N. Parameswaran, head of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and Lafaek, an East Timor leader, in Kupang, West Nusa Tenggara.

"I'm confident of a permanent reconciliation among East Timor leaders before East Timor's independence is declared on May 20, 2002," he said as quoted by Antara news agency.

He said the leaders scheduled to attend the meeting included Xanana, Ramos Horta and pro-Indonesia figures such as Joao da Silva Tavares and Eurico Guteres.

Tavares, along with other former pro-Indonesia fighters, are still promoting the planned meeting in refugee camps in the province's Belu regency.

"Numerous East Timorese leaders will attend the meeting and a major change is expected to result from the meeting in terms of a permanent solution to the East Timor issue," he said.

Salele is a small village in the border region that became a gateway for East Timorese refugees entering the province following the 1999 post-ballot violence in East Timor.

Tens of thousands of refugees returned to their homeland through the small village last year.

Moesanip said he was optimistic that leaders from both the pro-Indonesia and pro-independence camps would be able to resolve their differences before East Timor's independence was declared.

According to him, it was better for the East Timorese leaders to hold the reconciliation meeting outside East Timor to avoid any possible problems.

More East Timorese refugees could be expected to return home after they had witnessed a reconciliation among their leaders.

The government stopped providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees as of Jan. 1, 2002, both to help speed up the repatriation program and because of a shortage of funds.

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