Subject: AU: E Timor ire over US travel warning

The Australian

E Timor ire over US travel warning

From correspondents in Dili, East Timor

28jun03

EAST TIMOR today reacted angrily to a warning by the United States urging its citizens to exercise extreme caution in the country, saying the advisory was "baseless and politically motivated".

On Tuesday, the US State Department revised its existing travel warning to East Timor, warning Americans to exercise "extreme caution" in public places such as clubs, restaurants, resorts and places of worship in the tiny country.

The warning is similar to advisories placed on other Southeast Asian countries by Washington and other Western governments after last year's deadly bombings on Bali island, a short flight from East Timor.

East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta said East Timor had no "traces of the presence of extremist terrorist groups."

He said the warning was "baseless and politically motivated to cover their (the United States) backs because of previous intelligence failures elsewhere."

"The US and other Western countries have a far higher level of violence ... making them far more dangerous than poor developing countries like Timor Leste that always fall victim to Western countries' stereotypes," he said in statement. East Timor is officially known as Timor Leste.

Citing the effect on tourism, other Southeast Asian countries have also reacted angrily to the travel warnings.

Most Western nations currently advise their citizens to avoid travel to Indonesia altogether, warning that other terrorist bombings are possible.


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