|Subject: AFP: UN rules out peacekeeping force for
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 1999 18:03:18 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo:
UN rules out peacekeeping force for ETimor violence
UNITED NATIONS, April 6 (AFP) - The United Nations on Tuesday issued a new appeal to the East Timorese and Indonesia not to derail political talks but rejected a call for a UN peacekeeping force to stop violence.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was "seriously concerned by continuing reports from East Timor of an escalation of violence," his spokesman Fred Eckhard said in a statement.
"He emphasizes his commitment to the continuation of the diplomatic process towards the settlement of the East Timor question and urges the parties not to allow the process to be jeopardized by increasing armed conflict," Eckhard said.
Eckhard added that "a high degree of political maturity and statesmanship is required at this time so that the opportunity now on the table can be seized."
Annan issued a first statement expressing concern about the upsurge in violence on Monday.
UN officials said Annan was aware of a call from jailed pro-independence leader Xanana Gusmao, who issued a statement Monday calling on his followers to take up arms in self-defence following the reported deaths of 17 East Timorese.
However they also noted that Gusmao had not issued the call personally, but via his lawyer Johnson Panjaitan. On Tuesday Johnson told a news conference that Gusmao was calling for a UN peacekeeping force.
The call was swiftly rejected by Jakarta and Eckhard told AFP that "there is no proposal for a peacekeeping force to be considered at this time."
The latest developments came as Portugal and Indonesia are preparing for a new round of talks at the United Nations that is expected to reach agreement on a draft autonomy package for the former Portuguese colony.
If rejected, as expected, in a UN-organized vote by the East Timorese, Indonesia has said that the territory which it annexed in 1976 will be allowed to gain independence.
A UN assessment team, which was dispatched to prepare for the UN-sponsored poll, is due back in New York next week to report back to Annan's personal representative for East Timor, Jamsheed Marker.