Govt Backs E. Timor Democracy

JAKARTA ~ Indonesia remains firmly in support of democracy in neighboring East Timor and of the legal government there, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said here on Tuesday.

“Indonesia fully supports democracy in Timor Leste, including its leadership and the legal government in that country,” Yudhoyono told journalists after receiving a visit by East Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

It was Gusmao’s first visit to the capital since the former guerrilla leader, who spent years fighting Indonesian rule in his homeland, became prime minister in August last year.

Relations between the two countries soured slightly after East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta reportedly suggested “outside elements” from Indonesia had backed armed attacks against him and Gusmao on February 11.

Ramos-Horta has also accused a private Indonesian television channel of having helped fugitive rebel leaders come to Indonesia for an interview.

Yudhoyono said his government was cooperating with East Timor in law enforcement and noted that Indonesia had arrested four East Timorese soldiers suspected of involvement in the February attacks.

He and Gusmao had also discussed closer cooperation in defense and security matters.

“We agreed to increase our cooperation in defense and security, such as in education, exchange of visits between officials and our existing border cooperation,” the president said.

The two head of states also witnessed the signing of a trade agreement and three technical cooperation agreements in trade, small and medium industries and in drugs and food control.

Gusmao brought a delegation of nine cabinet ministers on the five-day visit.

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