Subject: The Nation: Thais respond to Timor poll aid
Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 08:01:48 -0500
From: ETISC <etio@ozemail.com.au>

Thais respond to pleas for Timor poll aid

Kavi Chongkittavorn

JAKARTA (The Nation, Apr 1, 1999) -- Indonesia has officially approached three Asean countries to be part of a contact group on East Timor to be set up by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Nugroho, the Foreign Ministry's director general of political affairs, on Tuesday met with envoys from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and asked for funds to assist the peace process that would involve a direct ballot, which will take place in July in East Timor.

He told the Asean representatives that a more detailed plan would be completed early this month and they would be informed.

An informed source told The Nation that Thailand is willing to participate in the group set up by Annan, provided it did not involve financial contributions.

''We are in economic difficulties. We can only contribute our personnel,'' said the source. Thailand has wide-ranging experience in the field, especially during the reconstruction period in Cambodia when it mobilised engineering groups and peacekeeping units to help the post-war recovery.

Both Singapore and Malaysia have not made any commitment to the proposal.

Earlier this year, the Thai government permitted Indonesia to use its embassy in Lisbon as a liaison office to contact Portuguese authorities.

In a recent meeting in New York between Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and his Portuguese counterpart Jamie Gama and Annan, they agreed that assistance from the international community is crucial for the future of East Timor.

Meanwhile, the National Commission on Human Rights has established a commission on East Timor to ensure peace during the planned direct ballot. The new commission will assist the local people in making the choice between the government offer of a wide-ranging autonomy or independence.

Scores of people have died in clashes since the government announced earlier this year that it was considering giving the province independence.

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