Subject: AFP: Nobel laureate Belo say US travel warning bad for investment, tourism

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Agence France Presse July 4, 2003

Nobel laureate Belo say US travel warning bad for investment, tourism

Dili - East Timor's Nobel peace prize-winning Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo on Friday criticised a United States travel warning regarding his country as harmful for investment and tourism.

"When the US announces that East Timor is not safe, it is not good for us," Belo told reporters upon arrival at Dili airport.

"Because (of the warning) there will be many investors who refuse to invest here and tourists will not come," he said, speaking after returning home from Portugal where he was undergoing medical treatment since February.

The State Department last month urged US citizens to "exercise extreme caution" in public places in East Timor such as bars, restaurants, schools, resorts and places of worship.

"Most crimes occur in the capital, Dili, with expatriates often targeted by muggers and burglars," it said.

Belo urged East Timorese to create a peaceful atmosphere "otherwise all tourists will instead go to (the Indonesian resort island of ) Bali."

Last week Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri also criticised the US warning, describing it as "bogus."

Belo, a symbol of resistance during the years of Indonesian occupation, announced in November last year that he was stepping down from his post as bishop. He cited unspecified health reasons which required him to rest.

Stationed in Dili since 1983, Belo received the Nobel peace prize in 1996 together with the current Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta for their struggle for independence from Indonesian rule.

The bishop was one of the few people within East Timor who risked speaking out against human rights abuses during Indonesia's occupation.

Belo said he returned to East Timor for his family's sake.

"My mother is old. She's 86 and her health is deteriorating," Belo said.


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