Sat, 08 Oct 1994

Alatas holds discussion with Horta

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas yesterday engaged in an exchange of views on East Timor with the leader of the Fretilin separatist movement, Ramos Horta.

"I don't think there was anything new. We've already heard all the ideas that he expressed (during the meeting)," Alatas said as quoted by Antara in New York.

However, he still put a positive spin on the meeting, saying that it was an opportunity for both sides to conduct a frank exchange of views.

Alatas, who was in New York to attend the 49th session of United Nations General Assembly, said that he hoped the meeting would help Horta and his allies better understand the true situation in East Timor.

Horta himself projected optimism after the meeting despite the lack of concrete results, saying that it could help bridge a better understanding between the two sides.

Prior to meeting with Horta, Alatas met with Abilio Araujo, an ex-Timorese separatist figure who has broken away from Fretilin.

Alatas said the meeting with Araujo was conducted in a more familial atmosphere because the former Fretilin leader showed greater appreciation of Indonesia's position on this issue.

The former Portuguese colony of East Timor was integrated as Indonesia's youngest province in 1976. Though now considered an inseparable part of the country, Portugal along with a number of its allies have continually refused to recognize the integration.

Alatas said Horta called for the demilitarization of East Timor and verification of that withdrawal along with a permanent United Nations presence.

These demands were rejected by the Indonesian foreign minister who quickly pointed out that the army was already planning to reduce its forces there by two-thirds next year.

Earlier in a broadcast on the Cable News Network, Alatas refuted suggestions that East Timor was a closed province.

He said a flow of international parliamentary delegations continue to visit the province along with a UN special rapporteur.

Most recently Australian and British parliamentary delegations spent a few days in East Timor.

The meeting, which was requested by Horta, corresponds with the initiatives agreed upon during the trilateral talks in Geneva last May between Indonesia, Portugal and UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

The two conflicting sides under the UN brokerage agreed to engage in confidence building measures to create a more amicable climate for negotiations.

On Tuesday Portuguese Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso conducted similar meetings with pro-integration East Timorese Lopez da Cruz in Luxembourg.


In Dili, East Timor Governor Abilio Jose Osolio Soares told The Jakarta Post that he approved of reconciliation efforts as long as they did not question East Timor's position in Indonesia.

Apart from the two meetings this week, Lopez and Araujo held talks in London in the framework of the Indonesia-Portugal Friendship Association.

Speaking about the positions of the two countries involved, Alatas said there was a need to move away from their individual absolute positions.

However as quoted by Reuter Alatas also hoped that Portugal, "might see the wisdom of accepting...the reality of East Timor and that the majority have chosen integration with Indonesia."

When queried on his views of Horta's two-and-a-half hour meeting with Alatas, Araujo said Horta had no right to call himself a representative of the East Timor people.

"Horta only represents a small faction," he said.(mds/hdj)