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Fretilin leader welcomes Australian move

Lusa - January 14, 1999

Maputo, Jan 14 (Lusa) - Mari Alkatiri, first vice-president of Fretilin, told Lusa in Maputo on Wednesday that while being "ambiguous" Australia's new policy towards East Timor amounted to a "substantial change." Alkatiri made the statement in reaction to the Australian government's announcement earlier this week that it was now supporting East Timor's right of self-determination as an integral part of Indonesia.

Alkatiri also said that Australia was now able to become a "facilitator" for contacts between the East Timorese resistance movement and the Indonesian government, as well as between the Indonesian Armed Forces and Falintil, the armed wing of the East Timorese resistance to Indonesia.

Alkatiri said Australia's position was "ambiguous" because it failed to recognise East Timor's right of independence, adding political developments in East Timor should lead to the end of Indonesia's "illegal occupation" of East Timor.