Subject: AP: E. Timor: Armed Struggles Not Advised

E. Timor: Armed Struggles Not Advised The Associated Press, Fri 27 Sep 2002

NEW YORK (AP) — On the eve of East Timor's joining the United Nations, the president of the former Indonesian-held territory said he would not advise other regions to use armed struggles as their route to independence.

``I will tell them to try everything to achieve a peaceful solution. We tried, we didn't only fight,'' East Timor's former resistance leader and new president, Xanana Gusmao, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

Gusmao's tiny nation, located on half an island amid the Indonesian archipelago, will be formally inducted into the United Nations on Friday.

In 1999, East Timor, gained its independence after a quarter century of iron rule under Indonesia through a U.N.-led referendum. Shortly after the plebiscite, Indonesia-backed militia killed hundreds and laid waste to the region, before an international peacekeeping force restored order. The United Nations took control of East Timor's administration as it began reconstruction, until the nation achieved full independence on May 20.

Separatists in Indonesia's westernmost Aceh province and other regions, including Papua province and the Maluku islands, are also struggling to follow in East Timor's footsteps.

Indonesia has given the rebels in Aceh until December to accept a proposal for autonomy. After that, it has said it will launch an offensive aimed at crushing them.

Gusmao said that armed resistance played a ``fundamental role'' in East Timor's independence struggle, but stressed that he would advise others in similar positions to ``use all their capacities to forge a peaceful solution.''

``It is difficult to have a military solution, they must do their best to achieve a peaceful solution. A peaceful solution can forge mutual respect and understanding,'' he said, adding that while he respected the claims of people fighting for their rights, he also respected Indonesia's integrity.

East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, echoed his leader's sentiments a day earlier during a public briefing, saying that no government in East Timor ``will be adventurous enough to offer support for independence for Papua or Aceh.''

Ramos-Horta advised the provinces to accept autonomy as a step toward achieving their goals, adding that Indonesia should also decline from using force against them.

Gusmao stressed that ties with Indonesia, which exports almost 80 percent of East Timor's supplies, were important to his desperately poor country. He said he ``saluted'' Indonesia for its democratic reforms and understood the difficulties the former invader was facing.

``We cannot forget that even though we have Australia as a close neighbor, the closest is Indonesia. We have to respect the processes in Indonesia,'' he said.

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