Subject: LUSA: International Donors Reaffirm Military Aid Commitments

26 Jun 01 12:59 East Timor: International Donors Reaffirm Military Aid Commitments

International donors ended a two-day conference in Dili Tuesday, promising several million dollars in aid for East Timor's infant defense forces.

Among the 13 countries represented at the conference, the main commitments came from Portugal, Australia and the United States.

At a closing news conference, the defense forces chief, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, said that, despite some certainties, the promised aid remained "declarations of intent", with the respective governments yet to get approval for the proposed programs.

The defense force, which graduated its first 250 recruits last week, would be buying small arms from the US and Belgium, he added.

Lisbon's representative to the conference, Dili mission chief Pedro Moutinho de Almeida, said that, while Portugal had yet to determine its outlay for next year, it would likely match this year's military aid, or some dlrs 1.7 million, largely for basic training.

Two patrol boats promised earlier for the fledgling naval component should arrive in East Timor by year's end, Moutinho de Almeida added.

Australia reaffirmed its commitment of about dlrs 13 million over five years, and the US representative, Lt. Col. Steven Rundle said the Bush administration was seeking congressional approval for dlrs 1 million in military aid for next year.

Other donor countries, including seven Asian neighbors, promised smaller amo[u]nts of aid for the defense forces.

SAS -Lusa-

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