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Lisbon accepts Timorese in French Jakarta mission

Reuters - March 4, 1997

Jakarta – Eight East Timorese men who entered the French embassy in Jakarta early on Tuesday will go to Portugal, an official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

"We have been contacted by the French embassy and the Indonesian government and we are making the usual arrangements," an ICRC official, who asked not to be named, said.

"They will travel to Portugal. We cannot say when they will be going but it will be in the near future," the official said.

Since September 1995, 100 East Timorese who have entered foreign embassies in Jakarta have been granted asylum in Portugal, the former colonial power in East Timor.

A spokeswoman for the French embassy declined to give any information on the subject.

The Portuguese news agency Lusa said the eight entered the embassy around 3 a.m. (2000 GMT Monday). The ICRC official said the eight were all men but declined to give any further information.

One diplomatic source said the group was thought to include university students from Bandung and Surabaya. East Timorese sources said the men seemed to acting on their own accord rather than as part of a more established network.

The United Nations does not recognise Indonesia's 1976 annexation of East Timor and regards Portugal as the administering power in the territory.

The Indonesian government has allowed such asylum seekers to leave for Portugal with the help of the ICRC.