|Subject: Gusmao gets
chief-of-state welcome in Lisbon
Gusmao gets chief-of-state welcome in Lisbon
LISBON, Oct 1 (AFP) - East Timor resistance leader Xanana Gusmao was received Friday with honors and tight security due a head of state as he began his first visit to Portugal, the territory's former colonial ruler.
Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio welcomed Gusmao at Lisbon's airport, along with Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, Foreign and Defense Minister Jaime Gama, and the leaders of Portual's political parties.
Driven into the city in a bullet-proof car with a helicopter escort, Gusmao was greeted several times by enthusiastic crowds waving white handkerchiefs, roses and red carnations, prompting him to lower his window and respond to the acclamations.
Speaking to media before a lunch in his honor, Gusmao thanked the Portuguese government and people for their support for the East Timorese, who voted overwhelmingly on August 30 for independence from Indonesia.
"I want to thank President Jorge Sampaio for his constant encouragement," he said. "The people of East Timor was heartened by the solidarity and support of the Portuguese people."
The "small, heroic and suffering" population of East Timor is ready, Gusmao added, "with the help of the international community and the Portuguese people to rebuild the country and defend democratic values and human rights.
In response to opposition critics that the government sought to profit from Gusmao's visit, a lunch held in his honor included leaders from across the political spectrum, and a legislative election campaign was suspended during his stay.
Gusmao, the man likely to be the first president of a newly independent East Timor, seemed reserved at Lisbon's presidential palace after spending 18 years in the mountains with the Council of East Timorese Resistance (CNRT), and six more in Indonesian prisons.
The former seminarian was freed by Indonesia earlier this month but was forced to flee to Australia after his life was threatened in Indonesia.
"The East Timorese were forced to undergo another test, on the doorstep of freedom," he said in reference to the murderous rampage by Indonesian army-backed militia which followed the August 30 vote.
East Timor Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo, who was also present Friday in Lisbon, repeated his call for a Marshall Plan for East Timor.
"There is no better plan for (repairing) the total destruction that we have seen," the 1996 Nobel Peace laureate said after he met with Portuguese parliament speaker, Antonio Almeida Santos, and heads of legislative party groups.
The bishop said he welcomed the chance to meet with Gusmao, but was not expected to attend the official luncheon as Santos was giving another in his honor.
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