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UN official meets Xanana

Agence France Presse - October 21, 1998

Dili – An assistant to the UN secretary general said here Wednesday he has met jailed East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao at his Jakarta jail.

"I went to jakarta to hear the comments of Xanana (Gusmao) on the results of the Senior official meeting," said Tamrat Samuel, the UN secretary general's assistant on political affairs for Asia and the Pacific.

Samuel, who was speaking to journalists here, was referring to a meeting between senior officials from Indonesia and Portugal in New York on October 6-8, to discuss Jakarta's proposal for wide-ranging autonomy for East Timor. "We had a good discusion... Xanana (Gusmao) also gave a positive reception to the senior official meeting," he added. He said he met Gusmao on Tuesday at Jakarta's Cipinang jail where he is serving a 20 year sentence for plotting against the state and illegal possession of weapons. Tamrat, who arrived in this main town in East Timor, earlier Wednesday, said he planned to meet another key East Timorese leader, Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Ximenes Felipe Belo here on Thursday.

He said his consultations with Gusmao and Belo will provide inputs for the next meeting of the senior officials, scheduled for November 19-21. He declined to elaborate.

In a letter published Wednesday by The Washington Post, Gusmao said although Indonesia' offer of autonomy for East Timor was progress, "it is not a serious proposal as long as it does not ultimately allow the East Timorese to decide their own political fate by means of a referendum." Gusmao also called on the United Nations to monitor the pledged withdrawal of Indonesian troops from his homeland, which he said "is empty unless the United Nations regularly verifies that reductions are actually taking place." He said East Timorese resistance groups were reporting exactly the contrary, that thousands of new Indonesian troops had arrived in the former Portuguese colony over the past few weeks.