Subject: ABC: East Timor awaits Navy ships briefing

Also: ABC - Ramos Horta rules out violence; East Timor says it does not need international peacekeepers


Last Update: Saturday, May 13, 2006. 8:07am (AEST)

East Timor awaits Navy ships briefing

East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, says he has not been told by the Australian Government about the deployment of Navy ships toward his nation.

The HMAS Kanimbla and the HMAS Manoora have been sent to Australia's northern waters.

The vessels are on stand-by in case East Timor requires assistance to quell any further rioting in the capital, Dili.

Dr Ramos-Horta says the Australian Government has not informed his Government about the deployment of the ships.

"It might not even be for East Timor because I haven't heard anything about that," he said.

"But accepting at face value Australia's good faith, accepting at face value that Australia cares about East Timor and cares about security here, well then I am touched.

"I wait to hear a proper briefing from the Australian ambassador."

Troops 'not required'

Prime Minister John Howard says East Timor has not requested help but Australia is ready to lend a hand if required.

Dr Ramos-Horta says he sees no need for the ships to be dispatched, because he does not believe there will be any further violent flare-ups.

"It's quite peaceful - the incidents we had on April 28 was only on April 28," he said.

"The rest of the week the country was largely the victim of rumours that caused people to flee to the mountains, but as everybody knows there [were] no more incidents.

"The situation has very much calmed down."

Dr Ramos-Horta says East Timor does not need peacekeepers, but believes more international police advisers would help provide stability.

Deployment concerns

Labor's Robert McClelland says Australia has an obligation to help provide stability in East Timor.

But Mr McClelland says he is worried about pressures on the Defence Force.

"Particularly in circumstances where we have just deployed two companies to the Solomon Islands," he said.

"It does put a lot of pressure on not only our combat troops who may be deployed but also those who may be responsible for backing them up."


ABC Online

AM - Ramos Horta rules out violence

[This is the print version of story]

AM - Saturday, 13 May , 2006 08:07:00

Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

ELIZABETH JACKSON: East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, believes there's no need for Australia to dispatch two warships north, as there's no chance of his country descending into violence next week.

He spoke to Alexandra Kirk last night.

JOSE RAMOS HORTA: No, I am not aware at all. I have not been told officially by that ­ I have heard it through the media, but Australia doesn't have to tell us about that, as long as they are in Australian waters.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Do you think it is a proper precaution for Australia to take?

JOSE RAMOS HORTA: I don't know. We haven't had any discussion, and meeting about … the situation in East Timor is quite peaceful. The incidents we had 28 April was only on 28 April. The rest of the week the country was largely victim of rumours, that they caused people to flee to the mountains. But, as everybody knows, there was no more incidents. The situation has very much calmed down.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But ahead of next week's party congress, is Australia right to be worried about a possible breakdown in law and order?

JOSE RAMOS HORTA: The leaders of Fretilin will hold their normal congress, and none of them have indicated any fear or concern about security problems.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: No, but the concern is, isn't it, that many key members of the ruling Fretilin Party say that 80 per cent of the central committee want the Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, to resign. The concern is that if he doesn't resign?

JOSE RAMOS HORTA: There is not the slightest doubt that if, in a truly democratic fashion, within the party congress, Alkatiri were to lose the contest, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that he would accept the democratic verdict of his party delegates.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And you think there is no chance then that East Timor could descend into violence next week?

JOSE RAMOS HORTA: There is no such chance. I've been in touch with everybody concerned. We are all cooperating to ensure peace in this country.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And do you think Australia's being overly sensitive in sending the two ships, the Manoora and the Kanimbla?

JOSE RAMOS HORTA: Well, accepting face value that Australia cares about East Timor, cares about security here, well then, I am touched. And I wait to hear a proper briefing.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, speaking to Alexandra Kirk.


East Timor says it does not need international peacekeepers

Fri May 12, 11:50 AM ET

DILI (AFP) - East Timor's foreign minister Jose Ramos-Horta said his country does not need foreign peacekeepers, shortly after Australia said it had sent two warships close to Timorese waters.

The East Timorese capital Dili was rocked by a riot on April 28 sparked by the sacking of 600 soldiers. At least five people were killed and thousands fled the city in fear of further violence.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Friday that two warships were being deployed to northern Australian waters in case East Timor requested international troops to quell any upheaval.

"East Timor does not need a peacekeeping force, because there is no war in East Timor," Ramos-Horta told a press conference outside Dili's police training centre.

However Ramos-Horta said that additional international police advisors would be helpful in the tiny nation, which only gained independence in 2002 and is due to hold general elections next year.

"We need an international police to create stability," he said.

Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has already urged the United Nations todeploy an international police force in his country ahead of next years's elections.

The UN mission in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL) is due to end on May 19, but has requested an extension of one-month.

Witnesses meanwhile said many of Dili's residents had returned to the city over the past few days.

But Ramos-Horta said that some people were waiting until after the three-day congress of the ruling party Fretilin, which begins next Wednesday, to come back.

Meanwhile Ramos-Horta's office said on Friday that the foreign minister had visited Aileu, 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of Dili, to meet with 20 military policemen and four members of the military's Rapid Intervention Unit who suddenly quit the capital for Aileu following the riots.

Their departure -- with their weapons -- fuelled rumours of unrest between soldiers and military police.

The men said they had not deserted and "expressed their strong opposition to violence and pledged they will not be involved in any actions that would harm anyone, including the government," Ramos Horta's office said in a statement. Ramos-Horta said he would continue talks with the men, led by Major Alfredo Alves Reinaldo, who also said they were not linked to the deserting soldiers.

The statement also said the minister was in contact with Gastao Salsinha, the leader of the 600 sacked soldiers, who left their barracks complaining of ethnic discrimination in the ranks.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said this week that the riot as well as an attack on a government office outside Dili on Monday, in which one policeman was killed, were a continuing attempt to stage a coup.

The government has said it has made contact with nearly 400 of the sacked soldiers and offered to pay their wages until June.

Australia led a UN-backed intervention force to East Timor in 1999 to quell the violence by pro-Indonesian militias after the independence vote.

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