The Presidential Years

MANDELA: As you know, Bishop Belo is the Nobel Peace Laureate and one of the most prominent leaders of East Timor.

I invited him to come to South Africa so that I can brief him on the efforts that I’m making to assist the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan in his efforts to bring about peace in East Timor. As you know I went to Indonesia recently and I had a discussion with President Suharto of Indonesia on the situation in East Timor and the basis of my representation to President Suharto was that autonomy should be given to the people of East Timor and he also allowed me to go and see one of the leaders of the people of East Timor, Xanana Gismo and I was able to see him and to discuss with him.

I also, when I came back to the country, invited his co-partner in getting the Nobel Peace that is Ramos Horta and briefed him as I have briefed the Bishop now.

Also, the President of Portugal asked if he could come and see me, which I agreed to and I also briefed him.

And it is in that capacity and in that spirit that I am briefing Bishop Belo, who, as I say, is one of the most prominent leaders in East Timor. It is not possible, of course, to go into details about these sensitive matters because if we are going to succeed in our negotiations the element of confidentiality must be kept otherwise we will not be able to make any progress if we go into details about exactly, the nitty-gritty of what we are discussing.

It is sufficient for me to say here is an important leader, a Nobel Peace Laureate, who is a leader of the people of East Timor. It is necessary for me to brief him so that he should know what efforts I am making.

And also a solution in East Timor is not something that can be achieved by people outside East Timor. The leaders of East Timor and the Indonesian government are the people who are going to solve this matter. And it is therefore in that spirit that I invited the Bishop so that I can brief him.

Now, there was a report that appeared in the papers that I had invited the Indonesian government and the leaders of East Timor … to come here for negotiations. There is absolutely nothing of the sort, I never did so, never have done so because this is an affair that is being handled by the United Nations and there is a tripartite negotiations going on between the United Nations, the Indonesian government and the Portuguese government. I am satisfied with that. All that I am doing is [cut] Secretary General. I am also inviting all the leaders of East Timor, to brief them so that they can tell me precisely what [CUT]

The Solution to me is that they must tell the United Nations what it is that they want and nobody would succeed in just imposing a solution on them. It was in that spirit that I invited the Bishop.

Original Source

SABC TV Archive, SABC Information Library, Johannesburg.