Subject: AP: Bush salutes East Timor, first new nation of the millennium

Bush salutes East Timor, first new nation of the millennium Tue May 21, 7:37 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The United States on Tuesday joined the worldwide salute of the establishment of East Timor (news - web sites), the first new nation of the millennium.

"We are heartened that the people of East Timor have embraced the path of democracy that will lead their nation to peace and prosperity," President Bush (news - web sites) said in a written statement.

East Timor declared its independence from Indonesia at midnight Sunday.

Bush also congratulated Xanana Gusmao, who was sworn in as the former Indonesian territory's first president after centuries of often brutal occupation, and he praised the role of the United Nations (news - web sites) "in bringing East Timor into the family of nations."

The United Nations took over the administration of East Timor in 1999 after its people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored referendum.

The vote touched off a wave of violence by the Indonesian military and its militia supporters that destroyed much of East Timor.

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