Visit to Indonesia and East Timor by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, TD.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews TD, addressing the Seanad today said that the Government is committed to promoting a peaceful transition in East Timor and to this end will be raising the issue at the next meeting of the General Affairs Council. He said that it is examining what contribution can be made nationally and suggested this might be directed through Irish NGOs.
The Minister paid particular tribute to the outstanding work of the East Timor Ireland Solidarity campaign and their leader, Mr Tom Hyland who has worked tirelessly in recent years to highlight the plight of the people of East Timor.
The Minister said that his visit last week to Indonesia and East Timor was a shocking experience. Minister Andrews reported that while he was in Dili, he heard first hand reports of attacks on refugees and on a local market by the pro-integration militia which had occurred that day. The Minister met with the Timorese resistance lader, Mr Xanana Gusmao who reiterated his desire for a cease-fire by all parties in East Timor and expressed his deep distress at the recent murderous activities of the pro-integration militias.
Minister Andrews had an extensive series of meetings with members of the Indonesian Government and officials. The Minister said that he secured the agreement of the President, Mr. Habibie that Indonesia would accept the presence of international observers in the implementation of the consultative process. The Minister said that he was particularly appalled by the attitude of the Governor of East Timor to the peace plan.
Following this visit, Minister Andrews reiterated the continuing solidarity of Ireland with the people of East Timor and its willingness to offer any assistance that it can, drawing from our experience of conflict resolution in Northern Ireland.