Subject: Timorese agree to set up reconciliation process

The Sydney Morning Herald Friday, December 17, 1999

WORLD

Timorese agree to set up reconciliation process

Tokyo: East Timor is likely to emulate South Africa by setting up a process to ease tensions between rival groups.

Sources attending this week's reconciliation talks in Tokyo said there was basic agreement on the need to establish a structure for "constructive negotiation".

This would be done by studying the success of countries such as South Africa and Poland in using reconciliation processes to unite divided communities.

However, delegates on both sides admit there is a long way to go before East Timor can be assured that the frantic effort to rebuild the country will be not be undermined by post-ballot recriminations.

While there are signs that pro-Jakarta militia groups are giving up the fight, the main problem remains trying to unify the population.

This is the second round of official reconciliation talks, following a meeting in Singapore last month.

Progress has been hampered by the absence of leading representatives from the National Council of Timorese Resistance and some of the main Jakarta-aligned groups, meaning another round of talks will need to be scheduled in another neutral country early next year.

The reconciliation talks have been overshadowed by financial deliberations on East Timor's future. Yesterday, the East Timorese delegation and Japanese corporate representatives discussed business opportunities created by the need to rebuild shattered infrastructure.

Tokyo announced it would increase its contribution to East Timor to $US300million ($470million) over three years, making it by far the biggest financial backer.

The announcement comes ahead of today's World Bank-sponsored summit of international donors to discuss East Timor's reconstruction needs.

Michael Millett


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