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Date: Fri, 1 Nov 96 21:10:43 CST
From: rich@pencil.UTC.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Subject: AAP: ET only one factor in Austral UN Debacle
/** reg.easttimor: 378.0 **/
** Topic: AAP: ET only one factor in Austral UN Debacle **
** Written 5:06 PM Oct 25, 1996 by fbp in cdp:reg.easttimor **
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>
Subject: AAP: ET only one factor in Austral UN Debacle

Timor not decisive in Australia's UN debacle

By Tom Hyland, AAP
22 October 1996

MELBOURNE, Oct 22, 1996 AAP - The East Timor issue was an important but not decisive factor in Australia's failure to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council, Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta said today.

More important factors included Australia's overt pro-American stance since the March election of the coalition government, he said.

The international spokesman for the East Timorese independence movement said the race debate sparked by Independent MP Pauline Hanson and cuts to foreign aid projects also were factors in what he called a diplomatic "debacle" for Australia.

Australia failed in a three-way ballot with Portugal and Sweden to win one of two open seats on the Security Council, at a secret vote taken in New York last night.

Mr Ramos-Horta said he had no doubt Australia would have won the seat if Labor was still in power, because of the international standing of former foreign minister Gareth Evans.

"I know Australia's chances were diminished after the Liberal Government was voted in," he told AAP.

Pro-East Timor activists in Darwin and National Party Senator Julian McGauran today linked the vote to Australia's support for Indonesia's rule in East Timor, which the UN has refused to recognise.

Mr Ramos-Horta said the question of East Timor, and the Nobel peace prize jointly awarded to him and East Timor Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo, had brought "some dramatic shifts in some people's perceptions".

But while the East Timor issue was important for a "few small countries" in the UN vote, it was not decisive.

Mr Ramos-Horta said a longstanding agreement between Australia and Sweden to support each other in the vote had alienated many countries. As well, Portugal retained strong support from African and Caribbean countries.

"The whole zenophobic debate in Australia, without a strong response from the (federal) government, raised serious concerns in African and Asian countries about Australia," he said.

He said Prime Minister John Howard's move to strenghten the alliance with the US was questioned by many in the UN, who feared Australia would give the US a blank cheque on the security council.

Australia would be seen as "blindly supporting the US" by many countries which resented America's domination of the council, he said.

AAP tfh/bc/de


SYDNEY Oct. 22, 1996 UPI--Australia has played down its failure to win a two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council, saying it would continue to play an important role in regional and international affairs.

Australia's Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Butler, dismissed suggestions that the results of Monday's secret ballot at the General Assembly in New York were humiliating to Australia. Australia had been favored to take the seat after playing a leading role in getting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to the world body for signing, but it lost out to Portugal by a vote of 124-57.

"We (Australia) do have a policy within the U.N. of not being just reactive but of actually trying to cause things to happen," Butler told Australian radio from New York.

"I expect that we will continue to have that stance and in the normal course of time there will be some issues which we'll be taking a lead on and we'll be able to do that whether we're on the Security Council or not," he said.

Butler said there had been allegations of vote buying, including reports in the Financial Times of London that Portugal had paid the U.N. dues of some countries, which made them eligible to vote. Butler said six African countries had paid outstanding dues in the past two weeks, but Australia had not made any promises in exchange for votes.

Australia had previously served four two-year terms on the Security Council: in 1946-47, 1956-57, 1973-74 and 1985-86.

Copyright 1996