Subject: UN General Says No Joint Patrols With Indonesian Army

Dow Jones Newswires March 17, 2000

UN General Says No Joint Patrols With Indonesian Army

DILI, East Timor (AP)--The commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in East Timor said Friday that he hasn't agreed to an Indonesian army proposal to join forces at the border with West Timor.

Major General Jaimie de los Santos said Indonesian General Kiki Syahnakri proposed a joint observation post and joint patrols in an effort to prevent pro-Jakarta militiamen from crossing the border.

Reports in the Indonesian media cited Syahnakri as saying the two sides had agreed to conduct joint patrols along the international boundary line.

The United Nations has been critical of Indonesian military inaction against the militias, which fled to West Timor when international troops secured East Timor six months ago.

At a meeting between the two generals this week, Indonesia pledged to deploy a third battalion of 680 men along the border in an attempt to stop militia activity.

Syahnakri also proposed that the two sides exchange liaison officers.

"I have never made any statement that I accepted this proposal," de los Santos told reporters.

The U.N. has ruled out using East Timorese freedom fighters as scouts to help them patrol the border region, despite complaining of the rugged terrain and other difficulties involved in operating in the area.

Guerrillas of the Falintil pro-independence movement fought numerous actions in the area during their 24-year war against Indonesian occupation. The rebels have been confined to base camps since the U.N.-sponsored Aug. 30 referendum because they have refused to be disarmed by the peacekeepers.

"They have the capability (to assist) because they are familiar with the terrain, but then again they can't leave their (camp) area with their firearms. We are doing the best we can," said de los Santos.

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