Indonesia seeks to deepen cooperation on East Timor
DILI (Reuters) – Australia, Indonesia and East Timor should
aim to increase cooperation at upcoming three-country talks,
Jakarta’s foreign minister said on Sunday, amid renewed
concerns about stability in the tiny fledging nation.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda made the
comments upon arrival in Dili ahead of a meeting on Monday with
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, East Timor Prime
Minister Jose Ramos-Horta and East Timor President Xanana
Highlighting the fragile security situation in the former
Portuguese colony, more than 50 prisoners escaped from Becora
jail near the East Timorese capital last week, including rebel
leader Major Alfredo Reinado.
“At this meeting we want to see what kind of cooperation
needs to be progressed,” Wirajuda told reporters, with
Australian military police standing guard nearby.
“We see, among other things, the need to develop
cooperation between the northern part of Australia and Timor
Leste, and also the eastern part of Indonesia,” he added. Timor
Leste is the official name for East Timor.
Reinado was one of the figureheads of a revolt that plunged
East Timor into chaos in May, prompting Australia to lead an
international peacekeeping force to restore order.
His escape on Wednesday has caused bickering among the
different nations involved in East Timor’s security over who
The rebel leader, who is currently being hunted by security
forces, urged in a video obtained by Reuters Television last
week that his supporters should not resort to violence.
“Me and my subordinates must comply with the legal system
but the legal system does not work properly,” he said.
The United Nations refugee agency said on Friday it was
concerned about an escalation in violence in Dili in recent
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron
Redmond said there were signs of increasing polarization of
communities in and around Dili, where some displaced persons
living in camps feared night-time attacks
Five people suffered gunshot wounds in a camp in Dili on
Friday and a sixth was wounded in a machete attack, an
Australian Federal Police spokesman said.
There have been sporadic flare ups in violence involving
gangs burning houses, or fighting one another with stones and
homemade weapons since May.
The United Nations agreed last week on a new mission to
East Timor, made up of some 1,600 police, despite a dispute
over whether Australian-led troops already there should remain
independent or be part of a U.N. force.
Jakarta’s embassy in Dili had urged the Indonesian military
to monitor the border area with East Timor in case Reinado and
other escaped prisoners attempted to cross, Jakarta’s El Shinta
Colonel Ediwan Prabowo, the commander of the military unit
guarding the border, told the radio network that there had been
no sign of Reinado or others trying to flee into Indonesia.
(Additional reporting by Ade Mardiyati in JAKARTA)