Subject: Lusa: UN Peacekeeping Force Announces Troop Reductions

East Timor: UN Peacekeeping Force Announces Troop Reductions 10 Jul-11:08

In a sign of increased confidence in East Timor's security situation, the United Nations peacekeeping force announced Monday it would begin reducing the size of its 24-nation contingent.

Troop reductions would begin in the eastern sector, the one furthest from the border with Indonesian West Timor, for a cut of some 1,300 soldiers by the end of January, PKF spokesman Col. Nymo said in Dili.

The three battalions, with 1,840 soldiers, in the eastern districts of Viqueque, Lautem, Baucau and Manatuto will be reduced to one battalion of about 500 over the next six months.

The reductions would gradually move westwards, he added, encompassing PKF headquarters in Dili and the central sector, currently under Portuguese command, and finally the western zone along the border.

The PKF currently has about 8,100 troops drawn for 24 countries.

The announcement came shortly before the scheduled replacement of the PKF commander, General Jaime de los Santos of the Philippines.

Thailand's Lt. Gen. Boonsrang Niumpradit, 52, currently head of the country's National Defense College, is to replace Gen. de los Santos on July 22.

SAS -Lusa-

-- Posted and edited by Eliot Hoffman, East Timor Action Network/U.S.,

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