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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
East Timor joins UN
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (left) with East Timor President Xanana Gusmao
East Timor will become the UN's 191st member
East Timor, the world's newest independent country, has become the 191st member of the United Nations.

Diplomats from around the world applauded East Timor's membership, which comes four months after it officially declared its independence from Indonesia.

Flag is unfurled on East Timor independence day
East Timor became independent in May
It is another major achievement for the tiny impoverished nation, where a bloody struggle for independence was waged for nearly 30 years.

But while a senior government delegation attended the ceremony at the UN in New York, there were no plans for such an event in East Timor itself.

President Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta and Finance Minister Maria Madalena Boavida, represented the government at the UN on Friday.

Quiet at home

After the General Assembly admitted East Timor as a member, the country's flag was to be flown outside the UN headquarters. President Gusmao was due to address the body.

But ordinary Timorese told Reuters news agency they were disappointed that no fan-fare would take place at home.

"We, the East Timorese, are proud of this day and I think it deserves a celebration," said 55-year-old Gabriel da Costa.

But a UN official in the capital, Dili, told the agency that for most of the public, after the excitement of independence admission to the UN was "not a big deal".

East Timor became independent on 20 May after a vote in 1999 to separate from Indonesia.

Indonesia had occupied the half-island in 1975 when the colonial rulers Portugal withdrew.

Since East Timor's independence, the UN has significantly reduced its personnel in the province, but it continues to operate a mission in support of the new government.

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 ON THIS STORY
Jose Ramos Horta, East Timor Foreign Minister
"We have to thank so many countries"
John Taylor, adviser to East Timor government
"Politically and economically things are developing quite well at the moment"

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See also:

21 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
19 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
13 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
20 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
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