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Press Conference Called On APEC Progress

By Selwyn Manning

APEC Ministerial chairs, New Zealand foreign affairs and trade minister Don McKinnon and minister of trade, Lockwood Smith will be holding a press conference at 5:15pm today.

The press conference will outline progress made by APEC ministerial meetings in setting the scene for the leader’s summit on Sunday and Monday.

APEC is fast being defused by today’s international contingent, gathered in Auckland to discuss pressure options designed to lever Indonesia to bring about calm in East Timor.

Don McKinnon chaired the meeting in Auckland’s Town Hall this morning where all but two APEC nations were represented. The meeting was also empowered by the presence of British foreign minister Robin Cook, who said he also had the mandate to represent all the countries of the European union.

After the meeting Mr Cooke said three main outcomes result from the meeting.
They are:
* the China, Vietnam, Brunei, Hong Kong and other countries close to Indonesia fully support moves by the western contingent it their calls for peace in East Timor
 that consensus was reached by all nations attending the special meeting that the people of East Timor have voted conclusively for independence and that 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, has telephoned Indonesian President B.J. Habibie to inform him of the outcome of the meeting.

Britains Robin Cook revealed that 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.

Don McKinnon, said earlier this afternoon that deeply disturbing news continues to flow from East Timor.

“In 48 hours since martial law was imposed there has been no improvement in the deplorable situation,” he said.

Mr McKinnon said ministers want to see that the results of the ballot are implemented in accordance with the tripartite agreement, and the violence in East Timor brought to an end.”

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