Subject: AP/RT: E. Timor needs 800 international police for up to five years

Also: East Timor asks U.N. for 800-strong police force; Rise in South-east Asian role for Dili welcomed

E. Timor needs 800 international police for up to five years

KUALA LUMPUR (AP): East Timor needs an 800-member international police force for up to five years to help restore order to the troubled nation, its prime minister said Thursday.

The UN Security Council agrees on the need to dispatch a strong police force to East Timor, but has yet to decide whether to send a permanent force of peacekeeping troops, Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said. The council will review the East Timor issue in the next two weeks, he said.

"We are very cautious," Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace laureate, said at a regional security forum. "We want the international community to stay as long as possible."

Ramos-Horta said it was vital that the United Nations commit itself in the long term, on contrast to its nation-building project in the wake of East Timor's bloody break from Indonesian rule in 1999. The UN operation ended in 2002 and the abandoned,former Portuguese colony became independent amid concern that its institutions were too fragile to survive on their own.

Violence erupted in East Timor's capital, Dili, in May after Mari Alkatiri, then prime minister, dismissed some of the country's military, triggering gunbattles and gang warfare. At least 30 people died, and tens of thousands of people fled their homes.

Violence ebbed with the arrival of a 2,700-strong peacekeeping mission that included troops from Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Malaysia.

Now the mood in the office of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is that the world body "must not be guided only by cost-cutting calculations," Ramos-Horta said at a news conference on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia's biggest security conference.

Ramos-Horta said he expected the UN Security Council to start with a two-year mission involving 800 international police who will help train East Timor's faction-ridden police force. He said East Timor also needed foreign peacekeepers to back up theinternational police by acting as a "deterrent" against troublemakers.

"It will take a while for us to reorganize our police force," Ramos-Horta said. "Ironically, one of the problems with our police force was that it grew too fast and not with proper training." (***)


East Timor asks U.N. for 800-strong police force

Thu Jul 27, 2006 8:35 AM BST

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - East Timor has asked the United Nations to deploy more than 800 international police to ensure stability in the troubled Southeast Asian state, Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said on Thursday.

He said the police would be needed for two to five years, along with a separate U.N. peace-keeping force as a deterrent against renewed violence.

"We are requesting over 800 international police, many civilian advisers as well as peace-keeping," he told a news conference during a meeting of Asian foreign ministers in Malaysia.

Tiny East Timor plunged into political crisis nearly three months ago when former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri dismissed around 600 troops after they protested against discrimination. At least 20 people died in the clashes and arson that followed.

Australia is leading a 2,500-strong U.N.-endorsed peacekeeping force, which also includes troops from Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal, that was brought in to restore peace in Asia's newest state.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said he hopes U.N.-led police and troops can join the Australian-led troops in six months and eventually take over the peacekeeping operation.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, also in Kuala Lumpur for talks with Asian states, said the request for 800 international police seemed ambitious.

"He's right to be focussing on police," he told reporters. "I think to get 800 of them is very ambitious."

But Ramos-Horta said the United Nations should not repeat the mistake it made in 1999-2000. Then, it was slow to act as pro-Indonesia militias fought a bloody backlash against the territory's struggle for independence, which it gained in 2002.

A wave of systematic violence and destruction swept over East Timor, forcing most of the population from their homes and destroying much of the country's infrastructure.

"Nation-building is a long-term process," Ramos-Horta said.

"When the United Nations commits itself to a post-conflict situation and the wish is to assist, it must not be guided only by cost-cutting calculations," he added.

East Timor is one of the poorest and most fragile states, with massive unemployment, but it sits beside one of the region's richest gas reserves beneath the Timor Sea.

It has a petroleum fund worth $700 million (376 million pounds) and swelling fast, fed by revenue from a joint gas field called Bayu Undan in waters between East Timor from Australia. The two nations share revenue from the field, with East Timor receiving 90 percent.

The fund should hit $1 billion by year-end, Ramos-Horta said. It also stands to receive another income stream worth nearly $15 billion over 20 years from a new, larger joint field.

But Ramos-Horta said his country needed skills as well as cash and that Malaysia had offered on Thursday to assemble a team of economic advisers to help formulate a long-term economic development plan for East Timor.


The Press (NZ)

Rise in South-east Asian role for Dili welcomed



Several countries have offered to contribute to the international force in East Timor to help take the pressure off Australia and New Zealand, says Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

Australia wants to begin pulling out its military in the next few weeks and officials indicate there is reluctance in South-east Asia to get too involved in the internal affairs of the tiny state.

"At this time ... we welcome other countries' contributions," Peters said after a meeting of the South-west Pacific Dialogue in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

"As an example, Thailand is offering a certain police engagement, so is the Philippines ... even Papua New Guinea made that offer.

"They didn't specify under what aegis, but the fact is they made the offer and they did accept that the party with the greatest numbers in there would automatically be the one expected to lead, which is Australia."

Peters said the East Timor Government had "made it clear it would support a wider engagement", although it wanted Australia to remain at the helm and it would become clear in the next few months what that meant for military forces in the country.

About 2500 police and soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal arrived in East Timor in May to quell the worst outbreak of violence there since independence from Indonesia.

"There is clearly a change in the wind about the long-term future for East Timor," Peters said.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, also at the Kuala Lumpur meetings held in the run-up to the security-focused Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) regional forum tomorrow, was similarly upbeat.

"We will be reducing our numbers over the next few weeks and months ... they can't be expecting us to hold their hands indefinitely," he said.

"It's going to depend a bit on the United Nations, too ­ the sort of new mission that the United States sets up in East Timor, and that will influence this, I suppose."

Downer said he was comfortable with Australia and New Zealand being relied on to intervene in the first instance. "I'm happy to deal with the reality of the situation. Australia and New Zealand have very well-trained and versatile defence forces. We can move our forces very quickly," he said.

Political analysts and the media in some of Asean's 10 member states have been critical of the inability of their governments to deal with security issues on their own doorstep and instead rely on outside intervention.

Until now, East Timor has also been reluctant to ask for help from Asean, perhaps wary of the grouping that endorsed founding member Indonesia's iron-fisted rule for 25 years.

A confidential Asean document passed to its 10 foreign ministers in Kuala Lumpur, a copy of which was obtained by Fairfax Media, shows the group is being careful to keep East Timor at arm's length despite Dili's hope to eventually join.

It also said Asean was in no way obliged to admit East Timor to its ranks.

Asean Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong said nations in the grouping were constrained by the need for consensus and that Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam were wary of setting a precedent for future intervention in their affairs.

"What you are seeing now is that instead of Asean responding, individual countries within Asean, like Malaysia, are responding quickly. Perhaps Thailand, too."

Hurry-up on trade ­ A9 Dan Eaton is covering the Asean meetings in Malaysia with the help of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

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