Subject: Indon team begins talks on handover of E Timor assets to UN

Indonesian team begins talks on handover of East Timor assets to UN

JAKARTA, Oct 15 (AFP) - Indonesia on Friday started negotiations on handing over its assets in East Timor before the former Portuguese colony is placed under interim UN control, the official Antara news agency reported Friday.

A 31-member team of Indonesian officials met Friday in the East Timorese capital of Dili with the International Force for East Timor (Interfet) and the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), Antara said.

Interfet personnel who attended the meeting at the old Indonesian military headquarters in Dili were from Australia, Malaysia, Philippines and New Zealand, the agency reported.

The spokesman for the Indonesian task force, Yuri Thamrin, was quoted as saying Jakarta "plans to grant all of its assets" -- excluding its state enterprises -- to the United Nations, which will oversee East Timor's transition after it voted for independence.

Indonesia still maintains two oil storage facilities in the Comoro and Pantai Kelapa districts as well as a telecommunications station at the Old Mercado area of Dili. There are also several basic goods warehouses.

Most public utility assets -- schools, hospitals, and housing complexes -- were completely or partially destroyed during last month's violent rampage by pro-Jakarta militia and the Indonesian military, some of whom burned their barracks as they pulled out.

Thamrin added that the task force had held "intensive" talks with Interfet on ways of calculating the value of public assets.

The team also told Interfet to "announce the presence of the task force" to all of its personnel in order to avoid "future" misunderstanding.

The head of the Indonesian military (TNI) special team in East Timor, Police Brigadier General J.D. Sitorus, said some 1,075 personnel -- made up of Army, Marines and Air Force soldiers -- had remained in the territory to guard and protect vital state assets.

Sitorus said his troops will be "slowly recalled along with the gradual return of normalcy in Dili."

He said the day Indonesia handed over East Timor to the United Nations "there will be approximately 818 personnel left in East Timor.

"However, they will be pulled out immediately ... we predicted the deadline for the final recall will be five days after the handover," Sitorus added.

Indonesia's national assembly, currently meeting in Jakarta, has delayed formal recognition of East Timor's overwhelming vote for independence on August 30.

But the presence of the team in Dili was seen in Jakarta as a signal that the bureaucracy saw recognition of a free East Timor as a foregone conclusion.

Once the recognition comes through, the Interfet is scheduled to hand over to an interim UN administration before a new government can be established in the former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975, and annexed unilaterally a year later.


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