Subject: AFP: Gusmao flags closer military ties between Indonesia and East Timor

Gusmao flags closer military ties between Indonesia and East Timor

SINGAPORE (AFP): East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao said here Tuesday his nation's armed forces were looking to build closer ties with their former adversaries, the Indonesian military.

Gusmao, speaking to reporters after addressing a business lunch in Singapore, repeated an offer he said he made to Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri when they met in Malaysia seven months ago.

"I had a very good opportunity to talk with President Megawati and I told her we can have in the future military co-operation," Gusmao, who for nearly 17 years led East Timor's guerrilla struggle against Indonesia's rule in the territory.

"We are not establishing an army to fight with each other again. Indonesia is our closest neighbour. It is why we can have more co-operation, even in military terms."

But Gusmao, who was caught and thrown into an Indonesian jail in 1992 before being released ahead of his nation's vote for independence in 1999, emphasized co-operation would not begin immediately.

"Not now, of course, but we have a perspective to co-operate in the future."

Despite his status as a revolutionary hero, Gusmao has consistently pursued reconciliation and friendship with Indonesia.

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