Subject: U.N. invites Indonesia's Wahid to East Timor

U.N. invites Indonesia's Wahid to East Timor

By Muklis Ali

JAKARTA, Dec 13 (Reuters) - The United Nations on Monday invited Indonesia's new President Abdurrahman Wahid to visit East Timor.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of a U.N. administration in East Timor, said after meeting Wahid in Jakarta that he hoped the trip would take place in the near future, but gave no date.

``We are very hopeful that his excellency the president will find it possible to visit East Timor soon,'' he said, adding that this view was shared by former resistance leader Xanana Gusmao and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Earlier this month, Gusmao and other top pro-independence figures visited Jakarta at Wahid's invitation.

De Mello, who was in Jakarta for a series of meetings, also urged Indonesia to restore full business relations soon, including commercial flights.

He said he also hoped that Indonesia would soon open a representative office in Dili and restore normal trade relations across the border between East Timor and Indonesia's West Timor.

``The needs in East Timor are huge as you know and we find it only logical that we should be tapping the resources in the West and in other parts of Indonesia,'' he said. ``So we discussed the prospects of a simple border arrangement that would facilitate trade and the travel of persons between the two parts of the island.''

De Mello also said he would welcome all East Timorese who return to East Timor and would guarantee their security.

``I mentioned that all would be welcome back, including those who may have served the Indonesian administration or who may been members of the Indonesian army or paramilitary forces. They are welcome back,'' he said.

``We must ensure that they are given credible guarantees for their security,'' De Mello said.

Indonesia ruled East Timor for nearly 24 years until earlier this year. In an August 30 referendum held while Indonesia's former President B.J. Habibie was still in office, East Timorese overwhelmingly opted for independence, sparking a campaign of violence by pro-Jakarta forces in which hundreds were killed.

Wahid was elected president in October in Indonesia's first contested presidential poll. Around the same time, the country's highest legislative body renounced Indonesia's claim to the territory.


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