Arientha Primanita & AFP
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will attend the 10th anniversary celebrations of East Timor this weekend, according to Teuku Faizasyah, special staff to the president for international relations.
Yudhoyono will make a “working visit” to East Timor, which is also known as Timor Leste, on Saturday and Sunday, Faizasyah said. “The visit of President Yudhoyono is in the framework of the commemoration of Timor Leste’s 10th anniversary. We hope that it will strengthen the friendship and bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and Timor Leste,” Faizasyah said.
He added that the visit was at the invitation of East Timor’s current Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. Relations between Indonesia and the half-island nation and former Portuguese colony — which was under heavy-handed Indonesian control from 1976 to 1999 — has been based on a forward-looking approach, Faizasyah said. He added that the ties have constantly shown progress.
Yudhoyono is scheduled to hold a tete-a-tete with current President Jose Ramos-Horta shortly after arriving in Dili on Saturday. He is also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Gusmao and witness the signing of a number of memorandum of understandings between the two governments.
Yudhoyono is also scheduled to visit the Santa Cruz cemetery, where Indonesian troops shot into a crowd of peaceful pro-independence demonstrators in 1991, killing At least 250 East Timorese.
On Sunday, Yudhoyono will attend the inauguration of newly elected East Timor President Jose Maria Vasconcelos, and is also scheduled to meet with him.
“The meeting with President Vasconcelos will present an important opportunity for the two leaders to strengthen their joint commitment to safeguard a continuity in the good relations between the two countries,” Faizasyah said.
Following a referendum in 1999, East Timor separated from Indonesia and came under UN supervision for what was supposed to be just three years, before proclaiming the state of Timor-Leste on May 20, 2002. Timor will choose a new prime minister and government in general elections on July 7, then at year’s end will finally say goodbye to UN forces stationed since 1999.