Timor-Leste

East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao thanked Finland

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East Timor=B4s independence leader Xanana Gusmao thanked Finland for its support and solidarity during the independence struggle, including the Finnish contribution during its EU presidency last year, and presented his host, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, with a traditional East Timorese scarf when visiting Finland on 21-22 March. The territory, formerly occupied by Indonesia, is currently under an interim UN administration.

Finland has pledged a total of FIM 46 million (USD 7.5 million) to assist nation-building in East Timor over a period of three years. The funds will be coordinated with other Nordic resources, said Mr Tuomioja.

Mr Gusmao stated firmly that he would not run for presidency once the independence process is complete and elections take place. "I am a fighter, not a politician", said Mr Gusmao who has led the independence struggle of the former Portuguese colony from 1974 until the withdrawal of Indonesian troops last year.

Mr Gusmao met also with President Tarja Halonen and Ms Liisa Jaakonsaari, chairperson of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee.

=A91998-2000 Virtual Finland