Subject: LUSA: Development aid remains 'front-line' concern in Lisbon - IPAD

10-12-2003 21:01:00 GMT . Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-5670582 Temas: East Timor: Development aid remains 'front-line' concern in Lisbon - IPAD

Dili, Dec. 10 (Lusa) - The head of Portugal's IPAD development aid agency, Luis de Almeida Sampaio, ended a 10-day visit to East Timor Wednesday, promising Lisbon would maintain its commitments to Dili despite budget constraints at home.

Sampaio told Lusa he had held broad discussions with Timorese authorities on a three-year aid package that Dili's foreign minister, José Ramos Horta, is expected to sign during a visit to Lisbon next month.

He declined to put a price tag on the 2004-2006 aid program, but underlined that Portugal was keeping support for East Timor's development on "the frontline" of its priorties despite domestic belt- tightening.

Between 1999 and 2003, Lisbon provided Dili with a total of about euros 458 million in various forms of aid.

Future help, Sampaio said, would focus on "a greater rationalization of resources" and a higher rate of project execution.

While acknowledging varied difficulties with previous projects, Sampaio gave top grades to Portuguese development programs, saying they deserved marks of "very good or good with distinction".

Lisbon and Dili, he said, should be "persistent and determined" in their efforts to reintroduce the use of the Portuguese language in East Timor, one of Portugal's main targets of bilateral cooperation.

"The language battle", he added, would not be won "in two days".


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