Subject: RT: Bolton opposes need for UN peacekeepers in Timor

Bolton opposes need for UN peacekeepers in Timor

19 Jun 2006 17:39:45 GMT


By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS, June 19 (Reuters) - U.S. Ambassador John Bolton questioned the need for the United Nations to send peacekeepers back to turbulent East Timor on Monday, despite Secretary-General Kofi Annan's consideration of a U.N. return.

Asked if U.N. troops left the tiny western Pacific nation too soon, Bolton said, "Certainly not."

An Australian-led multinational force of about 2,700 intervened in East Timor last month to quell fighting between military factions that threatened the stability of the world's youngest nation, which became independent in 2002.

"I think we certainly want to do what we can to support the Australians and New Zealanders who are there and to consider what's appropriate," Bolton said.

But he said the latest turmoil was unrelated to East Timor's independence from Indonesia, the reason for the U.N. deployment in 2000 when some 7,500 U.N. peacekeepers replaced a previous Australian-led force that quelled violence by Jakarta's troops and allied militia.

The U.N. Security Council shut down the peacekeeping force last month, leaving a small political mission in the country. Some council members favor a return of U.N. troops or police.

East Timor has asked for U.N. police for at least a year while the world body administers the country's elections, due next year. The nation's leaders are assuming that military functions would be handled by Australia, New Zealand and Malaysian troops there now, Annan said.

Bolton said the cause of the violence was related to post-independence politics. "But there is no argument that U.N. forces should remain in a country like East Timor forever.

"What we need is a way to work thorough post-peacekeeping operations to graduation so democratic countries can stand on their own two feet. That's what the people of those countries want, not a U.N. presence forever," he said.

"That is not desirable for the countries involved, it is not desirable for the U.N., it is not desirable for the other member-governments," Bolton said. "I think responsibility and democratic control of your own government means doing it on your own."

Last week Annan said he believed the United Nations had pulled out too soon. He sent an envoy, Canadian Ian Martin, to the country to assess the situation.

Martin told reporters a U.N. peacekeeping mission should provide law and order primarily in Dili, the capital, in advance of East Timor's May 2007 elections.

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