Indonesia and East Timor have established a joint commission to investigate atrocities surrounding East Timor's 1999 vote for independence from Jakarta.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao Wednesday signed into creation the Commission of Truth and Friendship. The presidents said the commission will search for the truth of what happened but will not recommend legal action against those responsible for atrocities.

Pro-Indonesian militiamen killed more than 1,400 people during East Timor's struggle to win independence.

The new commission, which will consist of lawyers, human rights leaders and politicians from both countries, will begin work in August.

United Nations officials and human rights groups said the deal allows those guilty of violent crimes to escape punishment. East Timorese and Indonesian officials say the commission will help build relations between the two countries.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.