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East Timor President Speaks of Recovery After Assassination Attempt


East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta says his young country's optimism and economy have improved greatly since rebels wounded him in a February assassination attempt. Mr. Ramos-Horta spoke to host Carol Castiel of VOA's Press Conference USA in New York recently.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner said the attempted assassination has left him with painful nerve damage but no serious injury to his internal organs. He said the attack was a psychological shock for the East Timor people, but the situation has been stable since and economic growth has revived. He also gave his views on international issues. Mr. Ramos-Horta said that the era of a single superpower is over and that the United States on its own cannot address the many challenges facing humanity.

Mr. Ramos-Horta, who was considered as a possible candidate to succeed former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, says the United Nations must reform to become more representative and effective.

The longtime peace activist said he had wanted the United States to give weapons' inspectors more time before launching its invasion of Iraq in 2003. But he also said it was unacceptable for a mass murderer such as Saddam Hussein to be a head of state.

When asked about the U.S. presidential elections, Mr. Ramos-Horta praised both candidates. He said the election of an African-American as president would be an extraordinary public relations coup for the United States, a reference to Democratic candidate Barack Obama.