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East Timor Admitted Into U.N.

September 28, 2002|From Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — East Timor, the world's youngest country, became the 191st member of the United Nations on Friday, just months after achieving independence and three years after shaking off Indonesian occupation.

Diplomats from around the world applauded, rather than formally voted, to accept the tiny Southeast Asian nation, ruled by Portugal for four centuries, as the newest U.N. member. The country's president, Jose Alexandre Gusmao, commonly known as Xanana, vowed to build a "tolerant and just" society from a community racked by decades of violence and suffering.

Gusmao, a former guerrilla fighter who spent seven years in jail and under house arrest, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan stood together under an overcast sky as U.N. guards hoisted the country's black, red and yellow flag and a flutist played the Timorese national anthem.

Gusmao said later that he was preoccupied with the daunting task of providing jobs, education and a better life for the estimated 800,000 people of East Timor, which Indonesia invaded in 1975 and claimed a year later. East Timor was born May 20 as Asia's poorest country.

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