Mon, 03 Oct 1994

East Timor leaders agree to expand forum

JAKARTA (JP): Leaders from East Timor still residing in Indonesia, along with others living in exile, agreed to expand their forum to include other overseas Timorese factions in hopes of bringing about total reconciliation.

F.X. Lopez Da Cruz leads the pro-integration delegation that plans to meet with leaders of those who oppose integration into Indonesia. He said that separatist leaders like Ramos Horta would also be invited to join the forum, the Antara news agency reported on Saturday.

Lopez was speaking in Chepstow, Wales, at the second round of meetings with the delegation of East Timorese in exile, led by Abilio Araujo, now living in Portugal.

The first meeting in London last December was a major breakthrough and marked the first steps towards reconciliation between various East Timorese groups that split after the outbreak of civil war in 1975. Many of those who opposed East Timor's integration with Indonesia have been living in exile. Some, like Ramos Horta, have been waging their separatist cause from abroad by campaigning for international support.

Lopez's delegation includes such prominent East Timorese as Salvador Soares, Fransisco Xavier do Amaral, Jose Concalves, Abel de Fatima dos Santos, Ahmad Alkatiri, Maria Luisa Quintao and Carlos Alberto de Fatima.

UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali, acting as mediator between Indonesia and Portugal in resolving the dispute over the sovereignty of East Timor, sent an envoy, Tamrat Samuel, to Chepstow to observe the meeting, according to Antara.

Lopez said his delegation has offered to establish direct communication lines with Araujo and other leaders in exile in order to get first-hand information about events in East Timor, reducing reliance on reports from the Portuguese or the international press.

"They can contact us either in Jakarta or Dili, individually if they like. There is no need to establish a special forum for that," he was quoted as saying.

The offer was made after Araujo, prompted by various allegations that appeared in the Portuguese press, raised questions about human rights in East Timor. (emb)