Subject: SMH: US invites former guerillas aboard

Sydney Morning Herald Monday, May 21, 2001

US invites former guerillas aboard By Mark Dodd

Dili: The commander of a United States warship that arrived off Dili yesterday has invited aboard visitors from the newly formed East Timor Defence Force in one of the first signs of military co-operation between the two countries.

A delegation from the ETDF is expected to make an informal visit today along with the student group Renetil and a youth group from the pro-independence National Council of Timorese Resistance.

The ETDF comprises mostly former members of the Falintil guerilla force whose 24-year struggle against Indonesian military occupation was rewarded in 1999 when East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence in a United Nations-organised referendum.

Part of a routine monthly visit to East Timor by US warships, the 8,000-tonne guided missile destroyer USS Paul F. Foster will be in Dili for three days, and about 300 sailors will come ashore to assist the US Support Group in East Timor with a variety of humanitarian work, including the refurbishment of an orphanage in Liquica.

Meanwhile, Russia has become the latest country to establish a diplomatic mission in East Timor.

The Russian Ambassador to Jakarta, Mr Vladimir Plotnikov, has presented his credentials to, the head of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, bringing to 14 the number of foreign missions represented in East Timor.

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