Subject: CONG: House letter re. peacekeeping in E. Timor

October 25, 2001

The Honorable Colin L. Powell 
Secretary of State 
2201 C Street, NW 
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are writing to urge full administration support for the United Nations successor mission to the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). We strongly encourage U.S. government agreement to the assessed military and civilian components as requested by UNTAET and the second transitional East Timorese government. The proposed U.N. successor mission was carefully developed with both the current reality in East Timor and fiscal responsibility in mind.

We understand that some in the administration have raised objections to paying for the requested civilian component in full through assessed contributions. We appreciate concerns expressed but feel that all of the requested positions are vital to a successful transition to independence. The U.S. and many others in the international community have properly invested much in East Timor's transition to independence, recognizing the real commitment and desire for an open, democratic future by the East Timorese people. We should not shortchange the next crucial phase in this process, putting the viability of the fledgling government at risk and jeopardizing the many accomplishments achieved thus far.

We note that the modest number of requested experts to provide technical assistance to the government attached to the Civilian Support Group, as well as those attached to the Office of the Special Representative to the Secretary General associated with serious crimes investigation and prosecution, are the very minimum necessary to ensure that the international investment made during UNTAET is not lost and security is maintained. The requested experts represent only a minority of the total posts that will be sought for all government sectors but are essential to ensure that UNTAET successfully completes its mandate. Given the current political climate with the war against terrorism, we fear that the necessary funding for the civilian component through voluntary contributions would be difficult to obtain and note that stability in East Timor at this time is crucial. We also recognize the unity being displayed by Security Council members and feel U.S. agreement should be given in the spirit of cooperation.

The people of East Timor have suffered tremendously to come this far along the road to independence. We were very pleased with the peaceful and successful conduct of the recent Constituent Assembly election and look forward to the constitutional product they devise. Yet we must also acknowledge the dearth of expertise in these very young governmental and judicial institutions resulting from decades of cruel and neglectful Indonesian occupation, and consequently view the modest request for the civilian component of the successor mission as being on par with that of security assistance. To risk a funding shortage for an adequate civilian, military, and police presence in East Timor could very well prove more costly in the long-term and possibly dangerous in the short-term.

Thank you for considering our concerns. We look forward to your response. Sincerely,

Tony P. Hall 
Member of Congress 

Tom Lantos 
Member of Congress

Joseph Crowley 
Member of Congress 

Tammy Baldwin 
Member of Congress 

cc: Honorable James A. Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State, East Asia and the Pacific
Honorable John D. Negroponte, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. 
Honorable William B. Wood, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs


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