Subject: AFP: UN SG to Set Up Contact Group
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 08:44:02 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo:

UN secretary general to set up contact group on East Timor: minister

JAKARTA, March 3 (AFP) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is planning to set up a contact group on East Timor composed of the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Britain, Indonesian Information Minister Junus Yosfiah said Wednesday.

Yosfiah, quoting Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, said the team would be called "Friends of the UN secretary general" and if necessary could be expanded to include Canada.

It would "monitor and receive materials" pertinent to the continuing talks between Portugal and Indonesia under UN auspices over the fate of the former Portuguese colony, he added.

The talks, set to resume in New York next week, are trying to agree a proposal for a form of autonomy acceptable to East Timorese.

Jakarta said on January 27, that if the people of East Timor reject the formula it would recommend granting independence to the troubled territory, invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed a year later.

The UN and most nations have never recognized the annexation and still regard Lisbon as the official administrator of East Timor.

Australia, the only Western country to recognize Indonesia's sovereignty, in early January modified its stance to say East Timorese should be given the right to determine their own future.

After the January 27 offer, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer recommended the establishment of the contact group, saying that it might help finance East Timor's transition to independence.

Downer also suggested that the group could be involved in helping to secure peace in East Timor, where tensions have been rising between pro- and anti- independence groups.

Indonesia, accused by human rights groups of arming pro-integrationists in the past weeks, has ruled out a referendum on the autonomy proposal. Other methods of testing opinion are currently under study.

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