East Timor: 'unexpected' progress made in talks between Jakarta, UN mission

18 May 2001

Bilateral talks between the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and the Government of Indonesian have yielded agreement on several important issues, including pension and compensation, the UN operation announced today.

The agreements were reached during this week's round of discussions that was described by Andrew Whitley, the Deputy Director of UNTAET's Political Affairs Office, as "one of the more productive meetings to date." Held in Denpasar, Indonesia, the talks resulted in an agreement by Jakarta to resume the payment of pensions to former Indonesian state employees residing in East Timor.

In another "unexpected" breakthrough, Indonesia agreed that it was necessary to include reference to a planned severance or compensation fund for former state employees in a consolidated appeal for West Timor refugees. The fund, tentatively scheduled for joint launch by Indonesia and the UN in July, could be an inducement for the return to East Timor of thousands of refugees, UNTAET said.

"It would provide modest compensation to former Indonesian government employees residents in East Timor for loss of employment and retirement benefits," Mr. Whitley said.

In addition, the two sides discussed the case of Juliana dos Santos, involving the rape and abduction of a minor from Suai by a notorious militia leader following the 1999 popular consultation.

UNTAET and Indonesia also agreed that Working Groups would meet soon on cultural heritage issues, notably on restoration of the looted contents of the Dili Museum and archives.

During the talks, Indonesia pressed for participation by UNTAET in the registration of refugees in West Timor, now scheduled for 6 June. It asked the UN mission to take part in the preceding public information campaign for refugees and to be one of 33 international observers. It was agreed that UNTAET would be involved in informational activities, but the UN officials stressed the obstacle presented by the fact that West Timor continued to be designated as a "Phase Five" region - an area that is highly insecure.


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