Subject: RT: Australia troops join extended Timor peace mission
World Saturday May 15, 8:51 AM
Australia troops join extended Timor peace mission
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia will provide about 100 peacekeepers and some police to East Timor over the next year after the United Nations extended its mission to Asia's poorest nation whose independence from Indonesia sparked bloodshed.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Saturday welcomed the U.N. Security Council's resolution to extend its peacekeeping mission in East Timor by another year to May 20, 2005, although the force would be reduced in size.
The follow-on mission will involve about 700 peacekeepers, police and and civilian advisers, down from 1,750.
"Australia will continue to provide strong support...through significant contributions to the peacekeeping, military liaison and police adviser contingents and possibly filling several key command appointments," Downer said in a statement.
Of the 1,750 U.N. troops and military observers in the tiny country, about 400 are Australian. This is down from a peak of 5,000 Australian troops in late 1999 when Canberra led a multinational peace operation into East Timor.
More than 1,000 people were killed in fighting in 1999 after East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia after 24 years of often brutal rule. Most deaths were blamed on pro-Jakarta militias backed by elements of the Indonesian military.
The United Nations administered East Timor until independence in May 2002.
Australia had been pushing for the U.N. to continue its mission in East Timor to help support the country's fledgling public administration, judicial and security institutions, with many East Timorese fearing the re-emergence of militias.
"Australia is particularly pleased that the mission will include substantive security elements...to provide back-up support to East Timor's security forces in emergency situations," Downer said.
East Timor is one of the world's poorest nations with a population of about 700,000 and receives $150 million a year in aid from nations led by Australia, Japan and the United States.
Security Council votes to keep drastically cut U.N. mission in East Timor
May 14, 2004 9:07pm AP Online
UNITED NATIONS_The U.N. Security Council voted to keep a drastically scaled back U.N. mission in East Timor to support the legal, law enforcement and security institutions that the government has established since independence two years ago.
A resolution adopted unanimously by the council Friday extends the mission for six months "with a view to subsequently extending the mandate for a further and final period of six months, until May 20, 2005."
In a report to the council last month, Annan said the international community's peacekeeping activities in East Timor have made "a crucial contribution" by providing security, facilitating the country's emergence from conflict, and supporting its political and economic development.
"Nonetheless, there is a limit to what can be achieved in so short a time," he said.
The resolution welcomed Annan's recommendation to extend the mission for a final one-year "consolidation phase" to strengthen key sectors including justice, public administration, the national police and security.
Currently, the U.N. mission has more than 1,660 troops, more than 300 international police and 77 military observers.
The resolution authorized a major cutback to 310 troops, a 125-member international response unit, 42 military liaison officers, 157 civilian police advisers and 58 civilian advisers.
The council asked Annan to review the mission every three months for possible further reductions before it wraps up next year.
Council members commended "the progress achieved by the people and government of East Timor, with the assistance of the international community, towards developing, in so short a time, the nation's infrastructure, public administration, law enforcement and defense capabilities."
But the council agreed with Annan that further assistance was needed to help build up key institutions.
When the people of East Timor voted for independence in 1999, the Indonesian military and its proxy militias responded by laying waste to the former province, killing 1,500 Timorese and forcing 300,000 from their homes.
The United Nations administered the territory for 2 1/2 years, then handed it to the Timorese on May 20, 2002.
East Timor will formally assume full responsibility for maintenance of security and stability throughout its entire territory on Thursday, exactly two years after independence.
But Annan stressed that "the development of its security capability remains at an early stage" and the United Nations should continue its support, and be ready to respond militarily to major security threats that exceed the current capacity of East Timor's security agencies.
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