Subject: RT: Portuguese-speaking nations back UN force in Timor

Portuguese-speaking nations back UN force in Timor

By Alberto Dabo

BISSAU (Reuters) - Leaders of Portuguese-speaking countries from Brazil to Mozambique backed a call on Tuesday for a U.N. mission to help quell simmering violence in East Timor.

The eight-nation Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), meeting in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau, said it had decided to send a joint mission to the southeast Asian country to evaluate aid requirements.

"In East Timor, the CPLP supports the authorities' call for the formation of a new United Nations mission with political, military and civil components," read a summit statement.

East Timor has suffered weeks of clashes, looting and arson which have killed at least 20 people and displaced 100,000, forcing the resignation of former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

Australian troops lead a 2,500-strong international peacekeeping force brought in to restore order, but on a visit to the capital Dili on Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard warned his country's troops would not stay indefinitely.

East Timor became a fully-fledged state in 2002 after a transitional period of U.N. administration. It is one of the world's poorest countries and is struggling to prepare for an election in 2007.

U.N. special envoy Ian Martin last month recommended the return of U.N. peacekeeping forces, a year after they were withdrawn.

The CPLP, founded in 1996, groups some 234 million people from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Sao Tome and Principe.

The association also called on the international community to support efforts at reconstruction in Guinea-Bissau ahead of a donors conference scheduled for November in Geneva.

Also one of the world's poorest countries, it has suffered a series of coups since independence from Portugal in 1974.

Former military ruler Joao Bernardo Vieira, toppled in a 1998-1999 civil war which destroyed much of the country's infrastructure, returned to power in a disputed election in July. Vieira was elected chairman of the CPLP for a two-year term on Tuesday.

The group also welcomed Spanish-speaking oil producer Equatorial Guinea as an associate observer.

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