Subject: AFP: US envoy meets Gusmao, pledges support for East Timor

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

US envoy meets Gusmao, pledges support for East Timor

DILI, East Timor, Nov 3 (AFP) - US ambassador-designate to Indonesia Robert Gelbard held talks on Wednesday with independence leader Xanana Gusmao and promised support for the development of East Timor.

"We had a very good discussion about future development and American support for the future of East Timor," Gelbard told AFP at Dili's Comoro airport after flying back from the meeting in the town of Bacau.

Gelbard said he gave Gusmao several bags of coffee produced by a cooperative financed by US AID during the hour-long talks and pledged support for similar projects as well as job training.

"It was a very good meeting, it went on longer than originally scheduled. We had a lot to talk about," said Gelbard.

He said the pair discussed the importance of East Timorese taking an active role in the rebuilding process.

"We are working with local NGOs which we supported even before and one of the issues we discussed with Gusmao is the need to bring local NGOs into the process."

Gelbard said the United States would continue its military commitment to the International force for East Timor (Interfet) and would take part in the future UN Transitional Authority (UNTAET) force being assembled.

There are currently around 150 US troops on the ground in East Timor, and the USS Belleau Woods has provided logistical support and helicopters.

Gelbard was due to fly back to Jakarta later Wednesday after a two-day visit during which he also held talks with Interfet commander Major General Peter Cosgrove and UNTAET officials.

UNTAET has been tasked with overseeing East Timor's road to full statehood following the August 30 ballot in which the people of the territory voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia.

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