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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Divisions Mar Timor Talks

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- East Timor's rival factions failed to make substantive progress in five days of peace talks, agreeing Wednesday only to abide by a previous agreement and leaving a number of key issues unresolved.

They couldn't even reach accord on how to continue negotiations, rejecting a proposal by the host Roman Catholic Church to set up a joint committee.

The tense negotiations were aimed at paving the way for a smooth vote in late August, when East Timorese will choose whether to become independent or gain greater autonomy within Indonesia, which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975.

The pro- and anti-independence forces said they would abide by a June 18 agreement to surrender their weapons and honor the referendum's outcome, no matter who wins.

But previous promises to disarm have been broken, and deadly violence has continued. Dozens have been killed in the last two months, and thousands have fled their homes for the jungle.

Threats from anti-independence militiamen forced evacuation Wednesday of a second UN office in East Timor, a UN official said, as security for the supervisors of an independence referendum appeared to be deteriorating.

Telephone lines and power were cut off at the office in Viqueque a day after several workers were injured when a stone-throwing mob attacked the UN office in Maliana, on the other side of the half-island province.