Subject: AP: E. Timor President Asks World Not To Forget His Nation

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Also: Tiny East Timor decides against advising Bush on Iraq

East Timor President Asks World Not To Forget His Nation

WELLINGTON, Sept. 19 (AP)--East Timor President Xanana Gusmao asked the international community Thursday not to forget his tiny new nation, which became the 191st member of the U.N. in late May.

On his first official visit to New Zealand, Gusmao said countries like it can help ensure East Timor is "not forgotten" and that "our brothers in the international community don't leave us alone" as the former Indonesian territory rebuilds from its violent separation from Indonesia.

He also stressed the importance of reducing tensions along the border with Indonesia.

"What we need, besides growing the economic capacity of our people, is stability. It is fundamental for us, stability," Gusmao told reporters at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Helen Clark.

After East Timor voted in August 1999 for independence from Jakarta, pro-Indonesian militias slaughtered hundreds and burnt down most of the capital, Dili.

Gusmao said that despite his country's "very, very poor conditions," many of its residents have told him that his government should give top priority to education for their children.

Earlier, Gusmao pressed noses with indigenous Maori in a traditional greeting as he was given a full ceremonial welcome as a head of state.

Bare-chested warriors bearing fighting clubs then challenged the former guerrilla leader. The fearsome traditional challenge is to ensure the visitor comes in peace.

The ceremony marked the start of a four-day visit that included a formal state luncheon at Parliament in the capital, Wellington, and talks with Prime Minister Clark.

Clark said her government is keen to respond to the needs of the new East Timorese government.

New Zealand was focusing on eradicating poverty through basic programs of clean water supply, basic sanitation, basic education and development at village level, she said.

Speaking at the state luncheon, Gusmao thanked New Zealand for committing troops to peacekeeping efforts in East Timor and for helping train East Timorese in the task of running their nation.

The president leaves New Zealand on Saturday for the U.S., where he is scheduled to make his country's first speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 27 as the body's newest member.

He will also meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on Oct. 2 in Washington.

Gusmao said when he meets Bush, he will "ask the United States to help us ... to eradicate poverty. By eradicating poverty we can participate in our region."

From Washington, he flies to Portugal for a five-day official visit before returning to East Timor.

Tiny East Timor decides against advising Bush on Iraq

WELLINGTON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - East Timor President Xanana Gusmao, leader of the world's newest nation, said on Thursday he would not advise U.S. President George Bush on how to handle Iraq when he meets him in Washington next month.

"As a very small country, we would not like to stand on the fingers of (President Bush)," Gusmao told a news conference in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

"We will just concentrate on our priorities."

Cash-strapped East Timor is keen to rebuild infrastructure such as schools and water supplies after violence following an independence vote in 1999 left large parts of the country in ruins.

Bush will meet Gusmao at the White House on October 2.

Gusmao shied away from offering an opinion on Iraq.

"We believe that...we can participate in our vision to stand up for love and peace," he said.

Gusmao spent 17 years as a resistance fighter after Indonesia invaded his country in 1975 and was jailed by Jakarta for seven years in the 1990s.

The independence hero swept to power in April and the half-island territory was declared formally independent on May 20, nearly three years after a vote to break away from 24 years of often brutal Indonesian rule.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Wednesday pressed Congress to vote quickly to give the Bush administration backing for a possible military strike against Iraq, part of what Bush calls an "axis of evil," along with Iran and North Korea.

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