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East Timor tripartite talks



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M ED IA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA105 6 August 1998

EAST TIMOR TRIPARTITE TALKS

I welcome the positive outcome of the talks in New York between the Indonesian and the Portuguese Foreign Ministers and the UN Secretary General on the future status of East Timor.

There is a clear indication that both sides are willing to be flexible in their talks, with each agreeing to put aside points of principle to concentrate on substantive talks about autonomy in order to move the dialogue process along. This is an important step in the process. The Australian Government has continuously advocated in talks with all relevant parties that the East Timorese people be given a greater say in the running of their own affairs.

I particularly welcome the agreement to engage in closer consultation with East Timorese representatives in the dialogue process under the auspices of the UN Secretary General. In my talks with the Indonesian Government last month I strongly encouraged the involvement of the East Timores6 in the process as an essential part of any formula for reconciliation.

The resumption of the All-inclusive East Timorese dialogue by October will also be an important means by which East Timorese opinion can be advanced and expressed.

The establishment of interest sections in friendly embassies in each others capitals is also an important confidence building measure as part of the process.

The Australian Government has also strongly welcomed the program of Indonesian troop withdrawals now being implemented on East Timor and prisoner releases already announced by the Indonesian Government.

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