|Subject: AFP: First government-rebel commander
meeting takes place in East Timor
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:55:02 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
First government-rebel commander meeting takes place in East Timor
DILI, East Timor, July 9 (AFP) - The commander of the Indonesian police in East Timor met a pro-independence rebel leader in a resistance hideout this week in the first meeting of its kind, an Indonesian task force spokesman said.
"This was the first meeting ever between a Falintil commander on the ground and the government. We met in a very remote village in Manatuto," task force head Dino Djalal told reporters here.
He said the meeting led to a local ceasefire agreement.
Three unarmed civilian police from the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) were at the meeting in Manatuto on Wednesday, as were two members of the neutral Peace and Stability Commission (KPS), Djalal added.
The regent of Manatuto and a group of unarmed Indonesian soldiers were also in the group on the government side, he said.
A source here close to Xanana Gusmao, the jailed leader of the Resistance Council of East Timor (CNRT), of which the Falintil is the armed wing, confirmed to AFP the meeting had taken place.
"The (Falintil) commander's name is Eli Ray Bott. We were greeted by about 150 to 200 men, many of them fully armed with AK-47s, M-16s, and G-3" rifles, Djalal said.
He said the group won an agreement from the Falantil not to attack Indonesian security forces. "In other words a ceasefire," he said. "It was a good meeting, very friendly."
Asked how the meeting was arranged, Djalal replied that it was unplanned.
"It was by chance that in the morning a military post was approached by this guy's men," and the Indonesian authorities and the KPS were immediately contacted.
The opposing sides in East Timor, the Falintil and the Indonesian military-backed militias, have agreed in priciple to lay down their arms before a UN-conducted vote by the territory's people on whether they accept an Indonesian proposal of integration with broad autonomy.
Details, including who will take the surrendered arms, have yet to be worked out.
Registration for the vote is scheduled to start next week, but UNAMET chief Ian Martin said in Jakarta on Wednesday that security conditions on the ground would have to improve before registration could begin.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has already delayed the vote by two weeks from the original date of August 8 because of continuing violence in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony that was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and integrated the following year in a move never recognized by the United Nations.