Subject: AFP: Gusmao embraces former enemies

Sunday, December 17, 2006. 7:47pm (AEDT)

Gusmao embraces former enemies

Indonesia's former military chief, who is charged with committing atrocities in East Timor, has given a symbolic show of support for the tiny country at a rare weekend meeting with its President, Xanana Gusmao.

General Wiranto and former Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas have met Mr Gusmao at a screening of the documentary, A Hero's Journey.

The film traces Mr Gusmao's bloody struggle for East Timor's independence from Indonesia.

"I think this film should be shown to as many Indonesians as possible," Mr Alatas said after watching the film.

Mr Gusmao, who spent seven years in a Jakarta prison before East Timor voted for independence, has hugged Mr Alatas and placed a shawl over his shoulders.

Mr Alatas says Indonesia is pushing for East Timor to become a member of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and hopes to see peace and stability in the country.

"Xanana has shown the way forward... we cannot forget the past but we should look forward," he said.

General Wiranto has hailed the film.

"It is touching and the theme about forgiveness and reconciliation is very good," he said.

"I think we need it."

Militia gangs, which the United Nations has said were recruited and directed by Indonesia's military, went on an arson and killing spree before and after the East Timorese voted for independence in 1999.

They killed about 1,400 people and laid waste to much of the infrastructure in the half-island, which was a Portuguese colony before Indonesia invaded it in 1975.

Mr Gusmao says the film is not an attempt to "discredit Indonesia".

"What we want is to note the past but we should look at the future and not the past," he said.

"General Wiranto, it is about you and me.

"It is not about East Timor and Indonesia."

A Hero's Journey, by Singapore-based Grace Phan, has escaped censors at the Indonesian Film Festival at a time when issues on East Timor remains sensitive there.

Authorities have banned three other films on East Timor.

Mr Gusmao is in Indonesia on an official visit to bolster ties.

He met with his Indonesian counterpart, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, late yesterday.


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