|Subject: Lusa: Defense, Dissuasion Mission
of Future Military - Gusmao
East Timor: Defense, Dissuasion Mission of Future Military - Gusmao 21 Nov-13:46
East Timor's future military forces will have "a defensive and dissuasive character" and will "contribute to regional peace and security," independence leader Xanana Gusmao said Tuesday in opening a donors conference in Dili.
Gusmao described Portugal and Australia as "the most significant" contributors to the future defense force, underlining that Portuguese should be the language of instruction.
He expressed his people's "gratitude and recognition" to the territory's UN peacekeeping forces, adding that East Timor considered it "essential" they remain deployed for some time after independence, which is expected late next year.
The aid conference, convened specifically to discuss the creation of the defense force, drew some 60 participants from 12 countries.
UN transition administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello underlined Dili's budget constraints and the regions "unpredictable and potentially unstable" environment.
It was "vital," he said, to guarantee internal and external stability, without which it would be "difficult, if not impossible" to rebuild East Timor and assure its "sustainable development."
The defense force model under consideration centers on a 3,000- strong, largely light infantry force, half of which would be reservists.
Gusmao said the "heritage" of Timor's Falintil nationalist guerrillas would serve as the example for the defense force's commitment to the values of a "democratic state of law."
The first recruitment for training of about 600 soldiers, drawn from Falintil ranks, is expected in January.
Portugal has already committed US dlrs 2.5 million for the first year and Australia dlrs 12.5 million over five years.
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