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Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 15:36 GMT
Indonesia and Portugal resume ties

Voters with UN official A UN-supervised vote put East Timor on the road to independence

Portugal and Indonesia have restored diplomatic links, 24 years after Portugal broke off relations when Indonesian troops invaded East Timor.

East Timor
The two governments are "convinced that resuming diplomatic relations between the two countries will contribute to the promotion of stable and mutually beneficial relations," said a joint statement issued in New York.

The Indonesian envoy to the United Nations, Makarim Wibisono, and his Portuguese counterpart, Antonio Monteiro, signed a joint communique at the UN to formally resume diplomatic relations.

The two countries broke ties in 1975 when Indonesia invaded East Timor, after Portugal withdrew from its former colony.

East Timor has been under United Nations administration since a vote for independence in August, after almost a quarter of a century of often brutal rule from Jakarta.

Gusmao support

Xanana Gusmao Xanana Gusmao: "Great joy"
East Timor independence leader Xanana Gusmao said he was glad Indonesia and Portugual were restoring diplomatic ties.

"We greet with great joy the possibility of restoring diplomatic relations, especially as I was a defender of the opening of a Portuguese mission to Jakarta," Mr Gusmao said in the East Timorese capital Dili.

"It's the natural result of the developments," he said.

Portugal and Indonesia have had interest sections in each other's capitals since earlier this year.

Portugal has had a representative at the Netherlands embassy in Jakarta, and an Indonesian envoy went to the Thai embassy in Lisbon

War crimes

Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab said the restored ties would "hopefully to convince them [the Portuguese] to understand our position regarding a war tribunal in East Timor".

Several of Indonesia's high-ranking military generals - including powerful General Wiranto - have been indirectly accused by Indonesian and UN rights investigations of masterminding the massive rape, killings and burning in East Timor after it voted to secede from Indonesia on 30 August.

A UN commission of inquiry which has visited East Timor is scheduled to report on its findings to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan by 31 December.

Indonesian has refused such a tribunal and has instead set up its own inquiry team.

Mr Shihab said he was hoping that Portugal might now back the Indonesians.

"Hopefully they will be convinced to be on our side," he said.

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See also:
02 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Portugal pledges aid for Timor
25 Aug 99 |  East Timor
Portugal's obsession with Timor
18 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesian general to help Timor probe
10 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Calls for UN tribunal on Timor

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