Subject: Ramos-Horta 'in no position' to judge troop delay

Ramos-Horta 'in no position' to judge troop delay

Posted Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:05am AEDT

Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta was in no position to judge how quickly Australian troops reacted when he was attacked in Dili last month.

Dr Ramos-Horta was shot and seriously wounded when rebels attacked his home in Dili in an apparent coup attempt.

On ABC 1's Lateline program last night, Dr Ramos-Horta said Australian-led international forces could have acted more quickly to react to the shooting, seal off roads, and capture the fleeing gunmen.

Mr Fitzgibbon says Dr Ramos-Horta's comments should be seen in context.

"He was complimentary in every way," he said.

"He made a very, very important point, and that is that we don't act independently, we act at the request of the sovereign Government of East Timor or the United Nations.

"He made the point that we can't move without directions from one of them in that case it was really a matter for the United Nations and not for us.

"He did make a suggestion that we could have moved faster to cordon off the city and to rein in the rebels, but you've got to have a close look at the timing of it all," he added.

"Of course the President was in no position really at the time to properly judge the timing."

Dr Ramos-Horta told Lateline he lay bleeding on the ground for about 30 minutes waiting for an ambulance after he was shot in the back.

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