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UN man urges fruitful talks

South China Morning Post - March 21, 1997

Agencies in Jakarta – The UN special envoy to East Timor said yesterday that productive talks were needed to achieve an acceptable global solution over the former Portuguese colony.

"The important thing is that the dialogue should continue... and we have to find means of ensuring that... it is productive," envoy Jamsheed Marker said after meeting President Suharto.

However, Mr Suharto told him Indonesia's annexation of East Timor was final and non-negotiable, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas revealed.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in December 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognised by the UN.

Mr Marker, appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan last month as his special assistant to East Timor, arrived in Jakarta yesterday on what the UN described as a "familiarisation" visit.

"The United Nations is at the disposal... of all the parties for any assistance that can be given on the subject of East Timor," he said. "I informed [Mr Suharto] that I am here on a fact-finding mission basically, and I will report back to the secretary-general."

Mr Marker said the world body would hold further talks on steps to be taken over East Timor after his visit.

Mr Alatas said the President welcomed the envoy's visit and hoped he could find an objective perspective after visiting the territory.

Meanwhile, a senior United States human rights official flew to the East Timor capital Dili yesterday for a fact-finding visit. John Shattuck, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, will leave for Cambodia tonight.

Indonesia blocked East Timor separatist leader Jose Ramos Horta from addressing the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva yesterday, scoring a victory for Jakarta, although the island is pressing for firmer action against its master by way of a draft resolution.

Mr Horta, calling Indonesia's behaviour "extraordinarily aggressive", called for Jakarta to tone down its hostility.