Subject: UN, Dili fight Canberra push to replace peacekeepers with
February 20, 2004 Friday All-round Country Edition
UN, Dili fight Canberra push to replace peacekeepers with police
Rodney Dalton * New York correspondent, Sian Powell * Jakarta correspondent
AUSTRALIA is trying to convince a divided UN Security Council that peacekeepers in East Timor should be replaced by police under a new mandate.
As well as arguing for the extension of the UN mandate, Australia's UN ambassador, John Dauth, will tell council members tomorrow that an armed emergency police response group, not soldiers, should deal with criminals along the border with West Timor.
It is understood Australia has convinced Britain and the US that peacekeepers are no longer needed. Its position puts it at odds with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has released a report calling for a reduced peacekeeping operation of about 350 soldiers after the mandate ends on May 20.
It has also dismayed East Timor. Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta told The Australian: "We are all quite puzzled as to why Canberra, London and Washington want to differ from everybody else on this issue."
Mr Ramos-Horta will tell the Security Council East Timor needs a continued peacekeeper presence. "We, the Timorese, maintain a very close working relationship with the UN and they listen to us," he said. "Certain countries do not seem to think that our own views are very relevant."
In a detailed report on East Timor's progress towards self-sufficiency since achieving independence two years ago, Mr Annan concludes that "further assistance" to East Timor will make a "crucial difference". He argues the UN peacekeeping operation should remain for another year to maintain security and help East Timor develop judicial and administrative systems and a national police force. His special representative would remain in East Timor to oversee the civilian, police and military arms of the UN operation.
"At a time when either calm or instability can become self-reinforcing, it would be advisable to retain a military component ... for a further year, with modified tasks, to reduce the risk of destabilising incidents," Mr Annan says. He proposes that this "minimal" presence of 350 military, including 42 advisers, would "focus on the western districts, where the risk is greatest".
The UN has 2000 troops and police in East Timor, with Australia providing 309 soldiers, 21 police and seven observers. Under the Australian proposal, it would still provide up to a half of the military personnel.
The Age (Melbourne) February 20, 2004 Friday
East Timor Police Plan Proposed
Mark Forbes,Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Canberra -- Australia wants to send more police to East Timor as an alternative to a United Nations plan for a scaled-down peacekeeping force after May.
Australia will make its case in a UN Security Council debate beginning today.
Although UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday called for about 300 troops to replace the existing, 3000-strong force, the Howard Government wants the troops replaced by police and is prepared to offer about 100 federal or state officers.
With the key debate on the future of the neighbouring nation beginning, Opposition Leader Mark Latham has indicated a focus on the immediate region with a surprise visit to Papua New Guinea planned on Thursday.
In his first overseas trip as leader, Mr Latham will meet Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and discuss plans to send 300 Australian police and public servants to help restore law and order and public administration there.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has signalled that Australia also wants to bring its police-led foreign policy to East Timor, stating that it is law and order problems in the fledgling nation that need to be tackled.
A report by Mr Annan to the Security Council said East Timor still needed help after the UN mandate ran out on May 20. About 3000 international peacekeepers are in East Timor to support its fledgling army, along with about 500 UN police officers and another 1000 staffers who provide technical help. In the report, Mr Annan said he wanted to cut that to 310 military personnel, 58 civilian advisers, 157 police advisers and 42 military liaison officers.
Annan recommends extension of UN peacekeepers in East Timor
February 19, 2004 5:17pm
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 19, 2004 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan has recommended a one-year extension of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMISET) in East Timor in order to consolidate its peace and stability.
In a report to the Security Council, which was released on Thursday, Annan said UNMISET's mandate was based on the assumption that East Timor would be in a position to maintain peace and stability on its own forces two years after its independence in May 2002.
However, he said, it has become "increasingly clear" that further assistance to East Timor will be crucial in a number of areas after May 20, when UNMISET's present mandate expires.
Based on assessments made by a UN team after a visit to East Timor in January, Annan said the tiny Southeast Asian state needs UN assistance in improving the justice system and administration, developing national police and maintaining security.
In early February, both East Timor and its former colonial power, Portugal, wrote to Annan requesting a continued presence of the nearly 4,500-strong UN peacekeeping mission, which has stayed in East Timor for two years.
In his letter, East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said the country's armed forces "are still not ready to deal independently with our internal tensions, the general volatility of a nascent country and the general volatility in our region."
"We are therefore deeply convinced that it is necessary to extend the presence of a United Nations battalion of peacekeeping forces in Timor-Leste beyond May 2004," he said.
East Timor changed its name to Timor-Leste after gaining full independence from Indonesia in May 2002.
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