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Truth and Friendship Commission Established

Indonesian-East Timor Joint Commission Based in Bali to be Dedicated to the Future While Healing Past Wounds.

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Relations between the governments of Timor Leste (East Timor) and Indonesia entered a new phase last week with the formal establishment of a Truth and Friendship Commission (KKP) headquartered on the island of Bali.

Comprised of five members each from East Timor and Indonesia, the commission is charged with "healing wounds" and uncovering the causes of acts of violence surrounding the plebiscite on independence held in East Timor in 1999. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono welcomed the establishment of the commission, saying he hoped it would resolve any outstanding issues between the two countries in an appropriate, fair and forward-looking manner. Marking the commencement of work by the Commission as a "new page" between the two sovereign nations, President Yudhoyono underlined that the KKP is not a commission of justice but, rather a commission of truth.

Targeted to file a joint report by the end of 2005, the KKP may help deflect calls for the establishment of an United Nation's international tribunal to try and punish those who may have committed violent crimes during the period of East Timor's transition to independence. Indonesia has consistently resisted calls for any war crimes process while officials in East Timor have also opposed moves for such trials, staing their wish to concentrate instead on establishing mutually beneficial relations with its nearest neighbor. East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao, once jailed in Jakarta by Indonesia as a rebel leader, has said he hoped the work of the KKP would satisfy calls for international justice in connection with the events surrounding his county's independence struggle.

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