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DATE=4/21/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-248398 TITLE=HABIBIE/ E. TIMOR (L-ONLY) BYLINE=GARY THOMAS DATELINE=BANGKOK CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: INDONESIA'S PRESIDENT SAYS HE WILL STICK TO HIS OFFER TO GIVE EAST TIMOR EITHER AUTONOMY OR INDEPENDENCE. PRESIDENT B-J HABIBIE SAYS HE WANTS INDONESIA AND EAST TIMOR TO LIVE AS NEIGHBORS. CORRESPONDENT GARY THOMAS REPORTS FROM OUR SOUTHEAST ASIA BUREAU IN BANGKOK. TEXT: IN COMMENTS PUBLISHED IN AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPERS WEDNESDAY, PRESIDENT B-J HABIBIE SAYS IF THE PEOPLE OF EAST TIMOR CHOOSE TO SEPARATE FROM INDONESIA, THEN HIS GOVERNMENT WILL DO EVERYTHING IT CAN TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. MR. HABIBIE IS QUOTED AS TELLING A GROUP OF AUSTRALIAN EDITORS IN JAKARTA THAT INDONESIA IS PREPARED TO RELINQUISH EAST TIMOR IN PEACE, IN HONOR, AND AS FRIENDS. HE ALSO SAID HE HAS PROPOSED THAT A FIVE-NATION GROUP CONSISTING OF THE UNITED STATES, JAPAN, THE PHILIPPINES, GERMANY, AND AUSTRALIA SHOULD COORDINATE THE PREPARATIONS FOR JULY'S SCHEDULED U-N-SUPERVISED EAST TIMOR AUTONOMY VOTE. INDONESIA INVADED EAST TIMOR AND ANNEXED THE FORMER PORTUGUESE COLONY THE NEXT YEAR, A MOVE NEVER RECOGNIZED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. IN A AN ABRUPT ABOUT-FACE LAST YEAR, INDONESIA SAID IT WOULD ALLOW EAST TIMOR TO BECOME INDEPENDENT IF IT REJECTED THE OFFER OF AUTONOMY. DETAILS OF THE AUTONOMY PROPOSAL ARE TO BE RELEASED LATER THIS WEEK. HOWEVER, THE PROSPECTS FOR EAST TIMOR HAVE BECOME CLOUDED BY ESCALATING VIOLENCE BETWEEN PRO-JAKARTA MILITIAS AND PRO-INDEPENDENCE GROUPS. THE INDEPENDENCE GROUPS ACCUSE THE INDONESIAN MILITARY OF TRYING TO DERAIL THE PROPOSAL BY TRAINING AND ARMING THE MILITIAS. AT LEAST SOME SECTORS OF THE INDONESIAN ARMED FORCES ARE BELIEVED TO BE OPPOSED TO RELINQUISHING EAST TIMOR. MR. HABIBIE SAYS HE HAS NO PROBLEM WITH INDONESIA'S MILITARY PROFESSIONALS, BUT ADDS THAT RETIRED MILITARY MEN AND SOME POLITICIANS ARE A PROBLEM. A PEACE DEAL WAS SIGNED WEDNESDAY BETWEEN THE OPPOSING FORCES, BUT IT IS NOT CLEAR IF THE MILITIAMEN ARE PREPARED TO GIVE UP THEIR WEAPONS. MR. HABIBIE TOLD THE AUSTRALIAN EDITORS THAT HE WANTS THE PRO-JAKARTA FORCES TO STOP FIGHTING, LAY DOWN THEIR WEAPONS, AND WORK FOR EAST TIMOR'S SELF-DETERMINATION. BUT HE ADDS THAT IT IS, AS HE PUT IT, ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE FOR ARMED FORCES CHIEF GENERAL WIRANTO TO DISARM THE MILITIAS. MR. HABIBIE IS SCHEDULED TO MEET AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER JOHN HOWARD TO DISCUSS THE EAST TIMOR ISSUE NEXT WEEK ON THE INDONESIAN RESORT ISLAND OF BALI. (SIGNED) NEB/GPT/FC/RAE 21-Apr-99 8:28 AM EDT (1228 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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