Subject: RT: E. Timor hopes for peaceful Aceh solution

Also: AGE: East Timor won't back separatists

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

East Timor hopes for peaceful Aceh solution

STOCKHOLM, April 22 (Reuters) - East Timor's new president, former guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao, on Monday urged Aceh separatists fighting for independence from Indonesia to follow East Timor's example and pursue a peaceful solution.

"We understand the demands of the Acehnese people, but we respect the sovereignty of Indonesia," Gusmao told a news conference in Stockholm, where he was taking part in an international summit on reconciliation.

Aceh province, which accounts for one-fifth of Indonesia's oil and gas exports, is home to four million people.

Indonesian officials and rebels are due to meet in Switzerland on April 27-28 for the latest round of peace talks aimed at ending the decades-long conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

"All we can say is we hope the problems there can be solved peacefully by dialogue," said Gusmao, who won a landslide victory in East Timor's first presidential election earlier this month.

East Timor was invaded and taken over by Indonesia in 1975, but in 1999 its people overwhelmingly voted for independence. The country will officially become an independent state on May 20, when the United Nations hands over administration to the new government.

Gusmao, who spent seven years in a Jakarta prison for guerrilla action, said he did not plan to meet representatives of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) during his visit in Sweden.

The GAM's exile government is based in Stockholm.

The Age April 26, 2002

East Timor won't back separatists

By Mark Baker

East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta has ruled out any backing for separatist movements within Indonesia once the country achieves its independence next month.

Mr Ramos Horta said freedom fighters in regions including West Papua and Aceh could expect no support or sanctuary from Timorese leaders, who fought for 24 years to win their own struggle against Jakarta's rule.

"We can assure our Indonesian neighbours, brothers and sisters, that East Timor is not going to be a haven for anyone in Indonesia who wishes to dismember the Republic of Indonesia," he said.

"Our first obligation is our national borders, our national interest, our national security and we have to respect our neighbour. Indonesia is facing enormous challenges within and without and East Timor will be the last piece of real estate in the world that would be offered to anyone to aggravate the situation in Indonesia."

Mr Ramos Horta told journalists during a visit to Singapore that despite the personal sentiments that East Timorese might have, they had to recognise that Indonesia would not tolerate any activities across its border that challenged Jakarta's sovereignty.

"There will be no rational-thinking government person in East Timor that would offer a base of support for any group in Indonesia that wishes to secede from Indonesia," he said.

He argued that there was no direct comparison between East Timor's fight against Indonesia's 1975 invasion and the claims of separatist groups within Indonesia. Throughout the struggle of the East Timorese, the foundation of their argument for independence was that Indonesia as the successor state of the Dutch East Indies never had a legitimate claim to the former Portuguese colony of East Timor.

"East Timor was therefore separate from any other claims within the Indonesian Republic. In the 24 years of our struggle . . . we never once said that we support self-determination equally for Aceh or Irian Jaya (Papua)."

Mr Ramos Horta said he was optimistic that Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri would attend the independence celebrations in Dili on May 20, despite opposition within sections of the Indonesian bureaucracy. "She would be honoured by our people and she would show herself to be a stateswoman, and she probably would be the star of the event," he said.

Mr Ramos Horta also said East Timor would resist strongly opposition from within the Association of South-East Asian Nations to the new nation's early admission to the regional grouping.

He confirmed that Burma was lobbying against the granting to East Timor of even observer status with ASEAN because of the long-standing support of the Timorese resistance for the Burmese democracy movement and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Other ASEAN members are arguing for delayed membership because of the poor state of the Timorese economy.

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