Subject: AGE: Iraq Conflict divides Timor's leaders

The Age April 3, 2003

Conflict divides Timor's leaders

By David Rood

East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao said yesterday he opposed Australia's involvement in the US-led war on Iraq.

Mr Gusmao's views appear to conflict with those of his Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, who has previously endorsed the use of force in Iraq.

"As a human being I will not support it," Mr Gusmao said. "We came from a war and we know the consequences. We know all the psychological and social impacts."

Asked whether Australia should be supporting the war in Iraq, Mr Gusmao said: "Don't put me against my friend Peter Cosgrove. What I hope is that it can have a quick and good end."

In an article published by The Age in February, Dr Horta endorsed the need for the US and its allies to use force.

He wrote that, while remembering the misery of war, "I also remember the desperation and anger I felt when the rest of the world chose to ignore the tragedy that was overwhelming my people".

Meanwhile, Mr Gusmao said he had talked with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer this week on the status of about 1600 East Timorese refugees seeking to remain in Australia.

Mr Gusmao said Mr Downer told him the Government was considering the refugees' status.

The Immigration Department said yesterday 1229 East Timorese had had their applications for permanent refugee status refused.


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