|Subject: SMH: Canberra "defeatist" on
Timor: US envoy
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:19:13 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, August 10, 1999
Canberra "defeatist" on Timor: US envoy
By PETER COLE-ADAMS, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
A senior United States official told the head of Australia's Foreign Affairs Department, Dr Ashton Calvert, in February that he believed a full-scale peacekeeping operation would be necessary in East Timor and that Australia's attitude was "essentially defeatist".
Nine days ago, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Downer, described reports of differences between the two governments over peacekeeping as "completely false". A day later, his department issued a media statement "categorically" denying such differences.
But yesterday Mr Downer conceded the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Mr Stanley Roth, had expressed a "personal view" to Mr Calvert at their February meeting.
He insisted that Mr Roth's view at that time, pushing for a peacekeeping force, had never been official US policy.
A leaked copy of a DFAT record of the February Roth- Calvert discussion reveals there was "one area of difference" over security in the territory.
"Roth's approach, which he admitted was a personal view given that he had not yet discussed it with Secretary [of State, Dr Madeleine] Albright, or other agencies, was that a full-scale peacekeeping operation would be an unavoidable aspect of the transition," the document states.
"Without it, East Timor was likely to collapse. Roth saw no prospect for reconciliation between East Timorese groups which could avert the need for significant external intervention ...
"Roth suggested that Australia's position of keeping peace keeping at arms length was essentially defeatist, and that it was necessary to go forth and persuade Congress and UN member states that it simply had to be done."
The DFAT document says that Dr Calvert had argued the need for the international community to induce the East Timorese and Indonesian leaders to work towards an orderly and peaceful transition to inde pendence or autonomy and to avert the need for peacekeeping.
Mr Downer told Parliament yesterday that the Australian and US governments had worked together closely and that he believed that at no stage had it been official US policy to push for a peacekeeping force.