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Belo scuttles Gusmao 'forgive and forget' bid to woo Indonesia

East Timor President Xanana Gusmao's attempt to further his campaign for reconciliation with Indonesia came apart yesterday when Bishop Carlos Belo criticised Jakarta's former foreign minister Ali Alatas during a visit to Dili.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the 70-year-old diplomat's first visit to independent East Timor began triumphantly. He was embraced by both Mr Gusmao and the Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, while dodging questions on human rights violations during Indonesia's occupation from 1975 until 1999.

Now an adviser to President Megawati Soekarnoputri, Mr Alatas was keynote speaker at a seminar organised by Mr Gusmao's office. In chairing the meeting, Mr Gusmao disallowed any questions referring to past Indonesian behaviour.

But Bishop Belo said he disagreed with efforts to avoid discussion of the past. "For all his merits, he [Alatas] was a mouthpiece for the Soeharto regime. We cannot forget that our people are demanding justice and reparations," Bishop Belo said.

Sydney Morning Herald

CAFOD applauds Bishop Belo as East Timor hero steps down (CAFOD)
The kid who became bishop and hero calls it a day (The Age 18/12/02)
Belo seeks war crimes justice for East Timor (SMH/ETAN)
To forge a future, Timor needs justice for the past (SMH/ETAN)

11 Sep 2003