Subject: LUSA: Ramos Horta Confident Dili`s Leaders Can Handle Tensions

19 Apr 02 22:06 East Timor: Ramos Horta Confident Dili`s Leaders Can Handle Tensions

East Timor`s interim foreign minister said Friday that he was confident president-elect Xanana Gusmao and chief minister Mari Alkatiri "knew how to manage existing tensions with a sense of state".

Jose Ramos Horta told Lusa in Lisbon that the "first messages (given by the two Timorese leaders after the April 14 presidential ballot) are frankly encouraging and emphasize the posture of state" of both politicians.

During campaigning in Timor`s first presidential elections, Gusmao and Alkatiri became involved in exchanges of accusation, with Gusmao accusing the majority Fretilin party, led by Alkatiri, of encouraging voters to spoil ballot papers or not vote.

Ramos Horta down played differences between the heads of state and government, saying "tensions between state institutions are natural and not necessarily negative".

The Timorese diplomat was attending a two-day conference to assess Portuguese aid to its former territory and met with President Jorge Sampaio and Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.

Durao Barroso pledged "total support in these coming years" from Portugal to East Timor, which becomes the world`s newest independent country on May 20.

Ramos Horta also alerted Lisbon`s foreign minister, Antonio Martins da Cruz, to the need for the maintenance of European Union aid which, he said, was "fundamental".

CJB/HM/IB -Lusa-

© 1997 Lusa Comentários e Sugestões para Agência Lusa

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