Subject: ProvJourn: Indonesia concedes E. Timor

The Providence Journal-Bulletin December 7, 1999

Sen. Reed: Indonesia concedes E. Timor

Journal Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Fresh from a visit to violence-torn East Timor, Sen. Jack Reed said yesterday that Indonesia has "written off" the loss of the territory and seems unlikely to block independence for the former Portuguese colony.

But Reed cautioned that the United Nations has no "concentrated plan for the redevelopment" of East Timor after the "systematic and absolutely devastating" rampage last fall by Indonesian-backed militias opposed to independence.

Reed toured East Timor and vicinity for several days after Thanksgiving with the Australian and United Nations officials in charge of the force that brought peace to the island territory after September's violent reprisals.

Reed told reporters yesterday that the Indonesian military, which plays a powerful role in Indonesia's new government, "appears to have basically conceded the fact that East Timor is lost." Indonesia seized the former Portuguese colony in the 1970s.

Reed cautioned, however, that elements opposed to independence may still be strong in neighboring areas of West Timor the part of the island that is to remain under Indonesian rule. Reed said it is crucial for the United Nations to develop a better intelligence capacity in order to ensure that the anti-independence faction does not begin to stir up problems across the border again as East Timor prepares for independence over the coming months.

Reed also called for Congress to approve perhaps $ 25 million for the repair of devastated homes, utilities and public works in East Timor. The redevelopment would also be a good assignment for the U.S. Peace Corps, Reed said.

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