Subject: AFP: EU to give 63 million euros in aid to East Timor

Agence France Presse -- English

May 25, 2007 Friday 5:22 PM GMT

EU to give 63 million euros in aid to East Timor

LISBON, May 25 2007

The European Union will grant 63 million euros (85 million dollars) in aid to East Timor to assist projects related to health, development and the justice system, a UN official announced Friday.

East Timor is "in the right direction on the road to stablisation, though it still has to overcome numerous challenges," said Atul Khare, an Indian diplomat and the United Nations' special representative for East Timor.

Challenges include putting a government in place "in a climate that allows for recognition of the opposition's role in civil society," he said.

Khare spoke of the aid following a meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, took over on Sunday as East Timor president as his troubled nation marked five years since it gained independence from Indonesia.

The president pledged to unite the tiny nation whose people are desperately trying to claw their way out of poverty after voting overwhelmingly for independence in 1999. Sporadic violence has destabilised the country in recent months.

Legislative elections are scheduled for June 30.

A former Portuguese colony, East Timor was under Indonesian control between 1975 and 1999 before gaining independence three years later.

ep/mjs/gk


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