|Subject: ABC: Alatas rejects Aust. as venue for Dare
Date: Sat, 29 May 1999 11:34:12 -0400
From: "Sharon R.A. Scharfe" <email@example.com>
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Alatas rejects Aust as venue for E Timor conference
Mon, 24 May 1999
Indonesia's Foreign Minister Ali Alatas says Australia is perceived as too strongly pro-independence on the question of East Timor to be a venue for a peace and reconciliation conference.
A reconciliation process launched by Nobel peace laureate Carlos Belo from Dili was put on hold after pro-Indonesia militia groups slaughtered civilians in Liquisa last month.
Indonesia supports restarting that process, but not in the way proposed by Bishop Belo who has suggested holding it in Australia.
Mr Alatas says despite the Federal Government's pro-Indonesia stance, Australia is far too pro-independence to be considered neutral territory for such talks.
"That can never be expected in Australia where there is the largest concentration of East Timorese living there who are against integration and who are known to be very often organising all kinds of demonstrations," Mr Alatas said.
"Sometimes violent ones...against our embassy, against people coming there, visiting there."
Earlier, a United Nations plane carrying equipment and staff to help prepare for the poll on East Timor's future arrived in the disputed territory.
On an airstrip in Bacau, about 130 kilometres east of Dili, guarded by special forces troops, the first United Nations plane has touched down in East Timor.
The Illusion-76 cargo jet was too big to land at Dili's main airport.
The jet has brought in nine additional United Nations staff, bringing the total on the ground in East Timor up to 24.
The main cargo on the flight is a self-contained satellite communications system and other communications equipment.
Seven trucks will transport the equipment back to a warehouse at the docks in Dili.
© 1999 Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Updated: Mon, 24 May 1999 at 9:28 PM (AEST)
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