/** ips.english: 409.0 **/

** Topic: INDONESIA: Little Sign of Accepting Peacekeepers in East Timor **
** Written 9:05 PM Sep 8, 1999 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **
Copyright 1999 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.

*** 08-Sep-99 ***

Title: INDONESIA: Little Sign of Accepting Peacekeepers in East Timor

JAKARTA, Sep 8 (IPS) - There was little sign here so far on Wednesday that the Indonesian government would accept, let alone invite, an international force to try to restore security in East Timor.

Hours after a five-member ambassadorial team from the United Nations arrived, its members were locked in several meetings with Indonesian officials and will return soon to New York to report to the UN secretary general.

The team has met with Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and will meet with President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie later on.

The team's objective is to ''see what can be done by the government of Indonesia to improve and restore law and order'' in East Timor, where martial law was imposed Tuesday, its leader, Namibia's Martin Andjaba said.

Given Indonesia's stand, foreign ministers meeting for the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in New Zealand are preparing to discuss East Timor in what is normally a discussion on trade and economic matters.

APEC's ministerial two-day meeting begins Sep 9. Asia-Pacific leaders meet for a summit on Sep 12-13, although Indonesian President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie has decided to skip the meeting.

Arriving in Auckland Wednesday, the U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright said that if Jakarta fails to stop the anarchy in Ease Timor, foreign countries would convey the message that Indonesia would ''suffer'' in several ways.

Washington though is not willing to send troops, only ''logistical support'' for any peacekeeping force, Australian officials said.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said the aim of Asia- Pacific foreign ministers was to tell Indonesia that ''we expect them to accept that help (in restoring order in East Timor)'' in the form of what Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer earlier called a ''peace enforcement force''.

Australia is pushing for a UN-sanctioned international force that would go into East Timor with Indonesian permission, and is likely to lead such a contingent.

Security Council authorisation would be sought in that case, but UN officials say the position of China, which has long taken a strong stand against external intervention, remains unclear.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who is visiting New Zealand, said on Wednesday: ''This question (of sending peacekeepers) should be discussed by the UN Security Council. I think the Security Council will find a solution according to the development of the situation.''

Jiang avoided direct reference to the proposal to send an international force.

As pressure mounted further on Indonesia Even with the meetings however, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and Justice Minister Muladi were both quoted as saying there was no room for international peacekeepers until ''phase three'' of the May 5 agreement between Indonesia, Portugal and the UN on East Timor.

That phase refers to the stage where the independence vote of the Aug 30 ballot is ratified by the People's Consultative Assembly in November, after which East Timor officially comes under UN auspices prior to independence.

Indonesia is also loathe to allow the entry of foreign forces in what officials had said would be a violation of sovereignty, and which would show the government to be inefffective in ruling an area that is within its jurisdiction.

Indonesia has maintained it can control the situation in East Timor, despite continued reports of burning, looting and murders by pro-Indonesia militia who do not accept the independence result as well as by members of the military themselves.

Some Indonesian figures, however, support the entry of an international peacekeeping group, for different reasons.

A retired military general, Theo Syafei, was quoted by local media as saying ''the best way to handle the situation is the arrival of a UN peacekeeping force'' because the military would not rein in the militia that were like their ''brothers''.

Militia members however say the reason for their anger lay in their view that UNAMET had biased for independence, though journalists still in East Timor as well as East Timorese leaders like Jose Ramos Horta say the ongoing anarchy was planned previously by the pro-autonomy camp.

East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio, who said pro- integration groups were denied presence during the Aug 30 ballot by UNAMET, agrees that it is time for a UN security force and urged pro-integration militias to lay down their arms.

However, he said: ''Let the international force deal with the conflicting groups and find out for themselves that it is not the Indonesian military who started the civil war. We, East Timorese, had been at war before ABRI (Indonesian armed forces) entered East Timor.''

>From Dili meantime, more than 250,000 people are estimated to have fled the capital even as news reports said the UN Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was preparing to evacuate.

Communication with East Timor has also become more difficult, according to state-owned PT Telkom, whose staff had left the territory.

East Timor's other Catholic bishop, Basilio do Nascimento of Baucau, was reported injured in trying to prevent militia-led attacks on refugees seeking shelter in his compound.

There was also a meeting Wednesday between pro-integration forces with military officials in Atambua, East Nusatenggara, where the militia reportedly agreed to stop the violence.

But there was no immediate sign of a change in the situation and even Jakarta officials doubted such promises. (END/IPS/ap-ip-

Origin: Manila/INDONESIA/ ----