|=Subject: USGOV: State Dept on UN Talks
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 09:31:30 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
MAY 5, 1999, WEDNESDAY STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
STATE DEPARTMENT REGULAR BRIEFING BRIEFER: JAMES FOLEY
Q On a new subject, if that's all right -- East Timor -- I just wanted to ask what's the State Department's reaction to the agreement being signed today in the U.N., that provides for a vote on autonomy in East Timor, and the concerns that it could spark more violence between the integrationist and pro-independence groups. And also, a Washington Post editorial recently said that Australia must take a lead in keeping the peace in East Timor. I'm wondering what the State Department's view of that is.
MR. FOLEY: Well, I wouldn't want to comment on the New York Times (sic) editorial. But in terms of our view of what's happening now, ministerial delegations from Portugal and Indonesia are meeting today in New York with the secretary-general's special envoy, Jamsheed Marker, to consider an agreement to have the U.N. facilitate a vote by East Timorese on an Indonesian autonomy proposal.
It is hoped that they will be able to formally sign the agreement at the conclusion of these talks.
The United States strongly supports the New York process and we call on all sides to cooperate in establishing a U.N. presence with appropriate security guarantees as soon as possible to begin preparations for the vote. Whether Australia itself plays a role in that U.N. presence I wouldn't want to prejudge. But our view is that it needs to be a presence that's able to guarantee the security of the vote. We also call on Indonesia to facilitate unimpeded access for organizations providing humanitarian assistance throughout East Timor. Now, the larger question of whether East Timor becomes independent or an autonomous unit within Indonesia is, in our view, for the people concerned to decide. Now, if the parties to the New York talks authorize a direct ballot on East Timorese -- of East Timorese, excuse me, on Indonesia's autonomy proposal, the focus of attention should immediately turn to ensuring that this vote is fair, peaceful and free of intimidation. And we look forward to working with the U.N. and others to support preparations of the ballot. And we call on all parties to fully live up to their commitments under the agreement. Yes, sir.