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Clinton asked to lead delegation to East Timor

From John King
CNN Washington

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has asked former President Bill Clinton to lead the U.S. delegation to May 20 celebrations of East Timor's independence from Indonesia, government officials and advisors to the former president said.

It is the first time Clinton has been asked by his successor to represent the United States in an official capacity, although the former president did consult with the White House before and after traveling to China for conversations with senior leaders of that country not long after the EP-3 surveillance plane standoff.

An official announcement of Clinton's role in the delegation is expected soon; the invitation was extended by Bush National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice at the president's request.

The Clinton administration pushed the United Nations into a peacekeeping role in East Timor after the region voted to break away from Indonesia in 1999. Then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke also has been asked to join the official U.S. delegation.




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