DILI, Indonesia (AP) _ A U.N envoy left East Timor Sunday after meeting with local leaders in a weekend visit marked by noisy but peaceful protests by hundreds of separatist demonstrators.

U.N. diplomat Jamsheed Marker said his discussions served as groundwork ahead of a new round of talks over the former Portuguese colony early next year in New York. The talks will be between Indonesia and Portugal.

There were a few tense moments when Marker climbed aboard an army helicopter and Indonesian soldiers leveled their guns at protesters who had gathered for his departure at the airport in Dili, East Timor's seaside capital.

Security officers also used a canister of tear gas to disperse activists who tore down part of an airport fence. Protest organizers and a Roman Catholic nun calmed the crowd.

Marker's trip had heightened fears that rallies timed for his arrival could trigger violence and jeopardize negotiations.

During a visit in March 1997, Indonesian soldiers shot and killed two pro-independence protesters at a rally outside a Dili hotel where the envoy was staying.

Marker, who last visited the half-island territory of 800,000 people in July, said he was satisfied with his meetings with pro- and anti-independence figures.

Peace talks led by Marker were revitalized earlier this year after Jakarta offered to grant autonomy to East Timor in exchange for international recognition of Indonesian sovereignty.

The United Nations does not recognize Jakarta's authority in East Timor, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed a short time later.

Marker was scheduled to meet Monday in Jakarta with Indonesian President B.J. Habibie and Foreign Minister Ali Alatas.