Subject: JP: RI plans to upgrade ties with E. Timor

The Jakarta National News

August 29, 2003

RI plans to upgrade ties with E. Timor

President Megawati Soekarnoputri is considering elevating Indonesia's diplomatic relations with East Timor and is seeking inputs from the House of Representatives (DPR) on her plan.

"We've received a letter from the President seeking input from legislators," House Commission I chairman Ibrahim Ambong said here on Thursday. Commission I is in charge of, among other things, foreign relations.

At present, Indonesia only has an Interest Section office in Dili, East Timor -- Indonesia's former 27th province.

According to Ambong, there were pros and cons concerning the plan to upgrade ties with East Timor.

In her letter, Megawati said she had been influenced by the fact that many other countries had already established embassies in Dili.

Ambong said the countries included Japan, the United States, Britain, Australia, and Malaysia.

He disclosed that legislators within the House's foreign commission were divided on the issue.

"Due to strong pros and cons we will delay talks on this issue. We want to hear from the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hasan Wirajuda first," Ambong added.

East Timor seceded from Indonesia in August 1999 after a United Nations- organized ballot showed a landslide victory for the pro-independence group.

However, then pro-Jakarta militias -- backed by certain military personnel -- vented out their anger by launching bloody rampage across the former Portuguese colony, laying to waste almost 80 percent of the infrastructure there.

Some military and police personnel, former government officials, and militia leaders were brought to trial but most of them were acquitted.

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