BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK
US promises East Timor support
Gusmao, (left), Powell and Horta (right)
Horta (right) said he felt reassured by Powell (centre)
The United States has promised that it will assist East Timor in every way possible once the territory achieves statehood.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell made the pledge during a meeting on Wednesday in Washington with Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta, the leaders of East Timor's independence movement, officials said.

Indonesia militia killed many during the independence vote
"We came out of the meeting really very reassured," Mr Horta, a Nobel laureate, told reporters afterwards.

The two leaders had asked for the US support in developing the territory's legal system and economy.

The territory has been governed by the United Nations since a 1999 vote for independence from Indonesia, and is due to hold parliamentary elections later this year before proclaiming its formal independence.

About 70% of the country's infrastructure was destroyed during violence after the referendum and thousands of people still lack proper housing and essential amenities.

Jakarta slammed

Mr Horta attacked the Indonesian justice system for its failure to account for the atrocities in East Timor during discussions.

Pro-Jakarta militiamen, with backing from elements in the Indonesian military, waged a campaign of terror in East Timor after the independence vote.

Militiamen from East Timor
Militiamen were blamed for many of the massacres
More than 1,000 people were murdered and almost every town was burned to the ground in the violence, leaving an estimated $3bn worth of damage.

"We have raised our profound frustration and unhappiness at the way the Indonesian legal system is handling this situation," Ramos Horta told reporters.

In particular, he voiced his disappointment at the lenient sentences of 10 to 20 months passed to six East Timorese men for the murders of three members of the United Nations refugee agency in West Timor.

"We are outraged. It is an affront to all of us. It discredits completely the Indonesian legal system," he said.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

29 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Gusmao quits presidential race
28 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Gusmao resigns as East Timor leader
07 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Fears of Timor assassination plot
17 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Gusmao urges aid for Timor
15 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Gusmao awarded Sakharov prize
02 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Gusmao turns down Timorese presidency
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor marks year of freedom
30 Aug 00 | East Timor
Analysis: Gusmao's key role
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories