|Subject: NYTimes: Albright Addresses New Warning to
Date: Sat, 02 Oct 1999 08:57:16 -0400
The New York Times September 27, 1999
Albright Addresses New Warning to Indonesia
By BARBARA CROSSETTE
NEW YORK -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Sunday with the man expected to lead an independent East Timor and warned Indonesia that it risks losing America aid and investment unless it protects refugees in areas it controls.
Albright's warning was one of the strongest yet by Washington, which has been reluctant to threaten sanctions against the world's fourth most populous country and one vital to Asia's economy. It was also the first time that Washington had made clear that it would hold Jakarta accountable for behavior beyond the border of East Timor.
Albright, in New York for the opening last week of the U.N. General Assembly session, spoke about the threat facing 100,000 to 200,000 refugees who were forced into West Timor during a siege of violence by militias backed by the Indonesian military. The refugees are reportedly being threatened and attacked by militia members who fled there as peacekeepers arrived in East Timor.
Commenting on a report from her assistant secretary of state for refugees, who has just been in East and West Timor, Albright said that "what she has reported to me is terribly troubling."
The assistant secretary, Julia Taft, said that while civilian authorities in West Timor seemed genuinely concerned about the refugees, it was evident that pro-Indonesian militias, in collusion with the Indonesia army, had infiltrated refugee camps and were intimidating people.
"The government and armed forces of Indonesia should understand that what happens in West Timor and to East Timorese living elsewhere in Indonesia is as important to the United States as what happens in East Timor itself," Albright said at a news conference with the East Timorese leader, Jose Alexandre Gusmao.
Sunday a senior administration official said in an interview, "We believe that the key to getting Indonesia to accept" a peacekeeping force, "was the threat of severe consequences if they didn't -- primarily loss of economic aid."
"What the secretary is saying is, Look, you don't just check the box and get out of the East Timor situation simply by evacuating your troops and turning it over to the U.N. if terrible things are going on in West Timor," the official said.
Albright will deliver the same message to Indonesia's foreign minister, Ali Alatas, on Monday, aides said. She will tell him that the United States is also concerned about the government's response to protests in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, and elsewhere in the country. Aides added that she will tell the government that it must continue to adhere to its promises of democratic change.
But the government of President B.J. Habibie is not the only player, and American officials also intended their strong message to be heard by Megawati Sukarnoputri. Her party will hold a plurality of seats in a new national parliament, and she hopes to be elected president in indirect elections later this year.
Ms. Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, is thought to be a nationalist in her father's mold and may attract military nationalists to her cause.
Gusmao, who was imprisoned in Indonesia for seven years before being released in August, pressed in their meeting Sunday for American attention to the safety of East Timorese scattered not only in West Timor but also across other Indonesian islands, Albright's aides said.
Gusmao, known as Xanana, is in New York to meet with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other U.N. officials who are preparing to take over the administration and defense of East Timor after a new Indonesian parliament assembles and ratifies the East Timorese vote for independence. After the East Timorese elect a government, the United Nations plans to withdraw.
Albright last met with Gusmao when she was visiting Indonesia in March. Indonesians and some foreign governments see him as the most likely leader of an independent East Timor. He has been more moderate than Jose Ramos-Horta, who has led an independence campaign from exile. Ramos-Horta was also at Sunday's meeting.
Gusmao, 53, was a military and political hero of the long guerrilla war against Indonesia, which began even before Indonesian troops seized the territory in 1975 after administrators from a collapsing Portuguese empire fled.
Gusmao was brought into three-way talks between Indonesia, Portugal and the United Nations as Indonesia moved toward allowing the East Timorese to vote in the referendum on their future.
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