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East Timor high on agenda of Secretary-General's talks with Indonesian leaders

Stressing that it was "absolutely essential" that the perpetrators of post-referendum violence in East Timor be brought to justice, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today he supported the Indonesian government's recent steps in that direction.
Following his meetings in Jakarta with President Abdurrahman Wahid and Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the press that it was important to send out the message that impunity would not be allowed to stand, which could also serve as a deterrent for others.

"If the Government puts [the perpetrators] on trial, and justice is done," Mr. Annan said, "I do not believe that the Security Council would insist on setting up an international tribunal. Of course if that doesn't happen, the Council has a right to revert to it."

The Secretary-General also said that Defense Minister Sudarsono had agreed to work with the UN to ensure that the unruly militia elements who are intimidating East Timorese refugees in West Timor would be brought under control. As for those East Timorese who may wish to remain in Indonesia, in West Timor or elsewhere, they should be free to exercise that choice, Mr. Annan said.

Regarding the efforts to rebuild East Timor, the Secretary-General said that the UN system was working as fast as it could to help reconstruct the territory, and noted the success of a recent fund-raising effort in Japan.

"We did have a good pledging conference for [the East Timorese] in Tokyo," he said, "The funds are going to begin to flow now. And there will be reconstruction and job creation projects."