International community ready to fund reconstruction

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 October, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 October, 1999, 12:00am

The international community has pledged strong support for East Timor and endorsed a plan to jump-start its reconstruction and development.

But, at a hastily called donor's meeting in Washington on Wednesday, all warned of a mammoth task ahead.

East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao said before the meeting: 'We will do what the international community expects of us.' The meeting involved representatives from 18 countries, including Japan, South Korea and China - and 10 international agencies.

Exiled leader Jose Ramos Horta said he believed East Timor could prove viable.

'We might not be another Switzerland, but in five to 10 years we will be a country that can feed its own people,' he said.

Specific funding has still to be discussed, but analysts expect few problems with financing, given the international outrage at the campaign of violence, forced migration, looting and burning by the Indonesian military and its militia allies in the wake of the territory's vote for independence.

An assessment mission will go to East Timor 'as soon as the security situation allows', said World Bank vice-president for East Asia and the Pacific Jean-Michel Severino.