Subject: Horta raps U.N. decision on Indonesia's Merpati airlines

Saturday May 28, 3:41 AM

Horta raps U.N. decision on Indonesia's Merpati airlines

(Kyodo) _ East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta criticized the United Nations office in East Timor on Friday for preventing its staff from flying Indonesia's Merpati Nusantara Airlines.

Horta said in a press release that the decision surprised his government.

"The United Nations' decision is unexpected, as for the past five years Merpati has been the main carrier for United Nations personnel either on official trips or on holidays to Indonesia and in the region," Horta said.

"It has also been used on almost a weekly basis by Timorese government officials including the president, prime minister and ministers as well as hundreds of East Timor's private citizens," he added.

Horta said his country has had a very cooperative relationship with the airline and will continue to use it.

The United Nations issued a directive to prevent its personal from traveling on Merpati, citing an alleged poor safety record.

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