Subject: France expresses support for E. Timor reconciliation

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Agence France Presse

June 9, 2003

France expresses support for E. Timor reconciliation

PARIS - French President Jacques Chirac on Monday expressed support for national reconciliation in East Timor in talks with the country's leader and independence hero Xanana Gusmao.

President Gusmao is to be presented with UNESCO's "Felix Houphouet-Boigny" Peace Prize in Paris Tuesday.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has said that Gusmao was chosen for "his fight for human dignity and for his conduct, which has elevated the human spirit not only in his region but in the world."

Former recipients include Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela.

Chirac was "happy to meet a man who is being valued and respected by everybody", his spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said after the French president's two-hour meeting with Gusmao.

Chirac "reiterated France's support for the process of national reconciliation", she said, adding that Gusmao thanked him for France's help in achieving independence.

Gusmao will on Thursday receive the "Path to Peace Foundation" award in New York.

He goes on to Lisbon, where on June 16 he will receive the "North-South Centre Prize" awarded to defenders of human rights, democracy and the partnership between poor and poor nations.

Gusmao will also attend a dinner hosted by President Jorge Sampaio. He returns to Dili on June 19.

Gusmao led the guerrilla resistance to Indonesian troops for 11 years until he was captured in 1992. He spent seven years as a prisoner of Jakarta but has worked for reconciliation since assuming the presidency of the new nation in May last year.

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