Thu, 25 Aug 1994

`One condition for dialog with Fretilin'

DILI, East Timor (JP): East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares says he is willing to hold a dialog with leaders of the separatist movement Fretilin but on one condition.

"They have to accept East Timor's integration with Indonesia first," Abilio told The Jakarta Post yesterday in his first comment on the peace gesture made by Fretilin last week.

"If they're willing to come out of their jungle hiding with the intention of genuine peace, I'm willing to meet them," he said. "I'm more than prepared."

Abilio said that he had not received the letter from the Fretilin leaders offering to hold peace talks.

The letter's existence was publicly disclosed through international news agencies.

Fretilin leaders made their offer for a truce and peace dialog last week but the local military has rejected it out of hand stressing that the rebel movement was virtually a spent force.

Fretilin has been waging guerrilla warfare for a separatist state in East Timor since the former Portuguese colony joined Indonesia in 1976. Its size and strength has been steadily declining and the movement suffered a severe blow in 1992 when its commander, Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao was captured and then convicted to 20 years in jail.

Abilio said the question of East Timor's integration with Indonesia is not for negotiation.

The offer of presidential amnesty to all remnants of Fretilin members still stand, he said. "They have nothing to fear when they come out of their hiding. Clearly this is better than spending their time in the jungle." (yac/emb)