Subject: AP: New Zealand to open embassy in East Timor

New Zealand to open embassy in East Timor

July 22, 2004 2:44am Associated Press WorldStream

WELLINGTON, New Zealand_New Zealand plans to open a full embassy in the world's newest nation, upgrading the diplomatic post it opened in East Timor four years ago, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said Thursday.

New Zealand has been "closely involved in helping East Timor maintain security and stability," and boosting the diplomatic post will help develop already close bilateral relations, Goff said in a statement.

He didn't say exactly when the new embassy will open.

Goff also said New Zealand will this year give 4 million New Zealand dollars (US$2.6 million) to East Timor, the poorest nation in the Asia-Pacific region, in development aid and grants.

New Zealand would also send three officers and seven troops to assist East Timor's Defense Force this year, he said.

New Zealand troops joined a United Nations' peacekeeping force sent to East Timor to halt a bloody rampage by pro-Jakarta militias in 1999 after the East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia.

Hundreds died and thousands fled from marauding militia gangs, reportedly operating with the support of Indonesia's armed forces.

Goff said his government supports the United Nations in its investigations into human rights abuses in East Timor during that period.

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