Subject: NZ's Governor General Visits E. Timor, Meets Troops

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

NZ's Governor General Visits East Timor, Meets Troops

DILI, East Timor, Feb. 13 (AP) -- New Zealand's governor general arrived in East Timor Wednesday for a two-day visit to meet local leaders and New Zealand troops on peacekeeping duty in the soon-to-be-independent nation.

Dame Silvia Cartwright flew into the capital, Dili, accompanied by New Zealand acting defense chief Air Commodore Bruce Ferguson.

It is the first time a governor general has visited New Zealand troops stationed overseas since the 1960s, when a contingent was deployed in South Vietnam.

About 700 New Zealand soldiers - a quarter of the country's army - are serving as part of the 6,000-strong United Nations force in East Timor.

"It's very clear East Timor has stretched our (army's) capacity but we are coping very well," said Cartwright, who as the representative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is New Zealand's head of state.

Although its troop presence is small, New Zealand has a significant aid program in East Timor. It includes the training of police officers, troops, customs officials, lawyers and judges for the nascent nation.

The government in Wellington has pledged to continue the assistance after independence.

East Timor voted to break away from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored referendum in August 1999. The Indonesian army and its militia proxies unleashed a campaign of terror and destruction in which hundreds of people were killed.

International troops arrived shortly thereafter to restore order. The territory will remain under U.N. administration until May 20.

Unlike neighboring Australia, New Zealand never recognized Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor.

Cartwright is scheduled to meet East Timorese political leaders Xanana Gusmao, Jose Ramos-Horta and Mari Alkatiri, as well as senior U.N officials.

She is due to travel to the border town of Suai, 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Dili, to visit New Zealand troops and inspect community projects.

In July 2000, New Zealand peacekeeper Private Leonard Manning was killed by a pro-Jakarta militiaman who had infiltrated into East Timor.

New Zealand troops are expected to begin withdrawing from East Timor at the end of the year as part of an overall reduction in peacekeepers in the territory.


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