Subject: LUSA: Portugal to 'maintain, reinforce' aid programs, says Lisbon official

19-05-2003 12:52:00. Notícia nº SIR-5037916 Temas: new destaque2 East Timor: Portugal to 'maintain, reinforce' aid programs, says Lisbon official

Dili, May 19 (Lusa) - Portugal is determined to "maintain and reinforce" its aid commitments to East Timor, José Arantes, Lisbon's adjutant state secretary to the prime minister, said Monday on arriving in Dili for the country's first independence anniversary.

The first year of independence, Arantes added, had been followed in Portugal, East Timor's former colonial power, with "very strong emotion".

"The first steps are never easy, but when we look at the general evolution, I think that what the Timorese people managed to achieve during this first year is notable", Arantes said.

In Lisbon, where the government is readying a three-year aid package, Arantes said there was "the interest and the will to reinforce all the cooperation we maintain with East Timor in order to respond to the requests" presented by Dili.

Arantes, who will be in the Timorese capital through Wednesday, is scheduled, among others, to meet with President Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and the commander of the Portuguese UN peacekeeping contingent.


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