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International Community Unified In Peace Call

By Selwyn Manning

A clear indication has been given to the Government of Indonesia by three quarters of the world’s nations to move on restoring peace in East Timor immediately.

In Auckland today, three quarters of the world’s GDP was represented at the special meeting called to discuss restoration of peace in East Timor.

British foreign minister Robin Cooke represented Britain and the European Community. Madeleine Albright represented the United States, and ministers from 12 of the 19 countries attending APEC Auckland were represented. Dignitaries represented the other countries.

After the meeting Mr Cooke said that there are three main outcomes of the meeting.

They are:
 Speculation that some nations attending the APEC conference in Auckland would boycott the special meeting: “That was not the case,” Mr Cooke said.
 There was a consensus of all nations attending the special meeting that the people of East Timor have voted conclusively for independence: “And that decision must be translated into a reality”.
 If the Indonesian Government is to ask for help in ending the violence then the countries attending today’s meeting are ready and willing to provide that help.

New Zealand foreign minister Don McKinnon, who chaired the meeting, is now telephoning Indonesian President B.J. Habibie to inform him of the outcome of the meeting.

Britain now has a naval ship, the HMS Glasgow, heading for East Timor. Mr Cooke says it has been instructed to be at the ready to help any international contingent in establishing peace, should the Indonesian Government call for assistance.

“We are exploring within our Government [the British] what presence we can provide on the ground in East Timor as part of a UN force,” Mr Cooke says.

All other countries represented at the special meeting also gave their commitment to military peacekeepers should that be required.

United States secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, refused to speak on any role the USA will take in bolstering an international military force to help establish order in East Timor.

Ms Albright said to Scoop: “New Zealand foreign minister Don McKinnon will speak on our [the USA’s] behalf.”

Mr Cooke said: “Nearly every country in New Zealand was in attendance and three quarters of the world’s GDP was in attendance today, and that sends a strong message of the unity and deep concern of the world’s community at the brutality and violence in East Timor.”

He said the strength of the voter turnout has shown the world’s community that the determination of East Timorese to gain independence and self-rule is conclusive: “The message from today’s meeting is that that outcome must be accepted and must be implemented,” Mr Cooke said.

“I say to the minority in east Timor who are trying to strain that ballot, you will not succeed.”

The rumour that a coup had this morning occurred in Indonesia was ruled out. Mr Cooke said he knew of no such information.

Will pressure from the international community, to instruct its military to restore order, cause friction between the civilian Government and the military wing? Mr Cooke said: “I very much hope that the military will recognise the international standing the Indonesian Government has. Indonesia is entitled to respect for what it has done in giving the people of East Timor a ballot and accepting that result.”

“We were all clear at today’s meeting that the democratic process in Indonesia continues… and is respected.”

“Today’s meeting has demonstrating a unity and consensus within the international community, at ministerial level. This has not happened before. Now this is a new factor,” Mr Cooke says.

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