For information only - not an official document.
23 January 2001


NEW YORK, 22 January (UN Headquarters) -- Harri Holkeri (Finland), President of the General Assembly, made a week-long visit to the South-East Asian region from 10 to 17 January 2001, visiting Singapore, East-Timor and Indonesia. Mr. Holkeri visited the region at the invitation of the Singaporean and Indonesian Governments and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

In Singapore, the President met with the Foreign Minister of Singapore, Professor S. Jayakumar, as well as with Dr. Ow Chin Hock, Minister of State at the Foreign Ministry. During his three-day stay in Jakarta, he had meetings with President Abdurrahman Wahid, Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Economic Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as well with Coordinating Minister for the Economy Rizal Ramli. He also met with both the Chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly, Amin Rais, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Akbar Tandjung. The President’s programme further included meetings with Ambassador Makarim Wibisono, Director-General for Foreign Economic Relations at the Foreign Ministry, and with representatives of the local diplomatic community and the office of the United Nations in Jakarta. In Denpasar, the President met with Major-General Willem da Costa, Chief of Udayana Regional Command, which encompasses, i.a., West Timor.

In East Timor, the President had a series of meetings in Dili, during which he was briefed extensively about the activities of UNTAET by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and other officials of UNTAET. He also met with local political leaders, including Xanana Gusmao, President of the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT), and Mario Carrascaleo, CNRT Vice-President. Both the Force Commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (PKF) in East Timor, General Boonsrang Niumpradit, and the Commissioner of Civil Police, Jose Luis da Costa e Sousa, briefed the President on their respective activities. The President also met with the heads of the United Nations agencies in East Timor, as well as with representatives of the local diplomatic community.

In addition to his programme in Dili, the President paid a half-day visit to Suai in the south-western part of the country, where he was given a briefing on the various aspects of the operation of UNTAET District Administration and the Sector West PKF. In 1999, Suai church was site of a massacre which claimed dozens of lives. The President laid a wreath at the massacre site, followed by a welcome at the Peace and Reconciliation Centre and a discussion with the local members of the District Advisory Council.

With his interlocutors in Singapore and Jakarta, the President had extensive discussions about the work of the United Nations Millennium Assembly. He highlighted the recent accomplishments of the main part of the fifty-fifth General Assembly, such as launching of the follow-up to the Millennium Summit, implementation of the Brahimi Report, and adoption of the new scales of assessments. In Singapore, the President attended a round-table discussion on these and other United Nations issues at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies. In Jakarta, he addressed the Indonesia Council on World Affairs on strengthening the United Nations system. The full text of his address is available on his Web site at

A central theme on the President’s discussion agenda in Jakarta was the situation in both East and West Timor, in particular the question of disarming the militias in West Timor, ensuring safety and security in the refugee camps and for humanitarian workers. This included preventing cross-border incursions into East Timor and bringing to justice those responsible for the attacks on international personnel, as well as the eventual safe return of refugees who choose to go back to East Timor. The Indonesian hosts assured the President of their cooperation and determination to facilitate refugee return. The hosts also expressed their hope that the United Nations and especially the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) could soon return to West Timor. Other issues that the discussions touched upon included the process of democratization in Indonesia, the situation in the provinces and general macroeconomic trends in the country.

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