Subject: BBC: Gusmao commemorates Indonesian dead

Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK Gusmao commemorates Indonesian dead

East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao has laid a wreath at Indonesia's heroes' cemetery, in a symbolic gesture aimed at reconciling the two neighbours.

Mr Gusmao, who spent seven years in an Indonesian prison for leading a resistance movement against Indonesia, was on his first state visit to Indonesia since East Timor became independent in May.

His trip to the cemetery, which commemorates Indonesians who were killed during its own struggle for independence from Dutch colonial rule, will be seen as a significant gesture.

"In every country where there has been a struggle for independence, there is a place to remember the heroes," Mr Gusmao told reporters.

"We want to pay tribute to the heroes of the Indonesian independence."

On Tuesday the two countries signed a joint communiqué which established full diplomatic ties.

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri said the two leaders held "very warm and useful discussions".


The two neighbours have close economic ties, but also have plenty of unresolved questions, including compensation for Indonesian property in East Timor and the return of thousands of East Timorese refugees in Indonesia.

President Gusmao and Megawati have agreed to set up a commission to resolve such sticky issues.

East Timor has so far rejected Jakarta's compensation claim saying both sides should wipe the slate clean.

During the independence vote more than 1,000 East Timorese were killed when pro-Jakarta militias went on the rampage, destroying towns and villages.

Mr Gusmao had been due to make his first trip as president to Indonesia in May but Jakarta postponed the visit due to what it described as a scheduling problem.

The cancellation had sparked speculation by some observers that Jakarta was not yet comfortable with accepting East Timor has an equal. Analysts are watching this visit closely.

Later on Wednesday Mr Gusmao was due to head to Makassar in Sulawesi province, where he will on Thursday address a seminar on prospects for economic co-operation between eastern Indonesia and East Timor.

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