Subject: Lusa: Portugal Assures 'Basic Training' of Defense Force

East Timor: Portugal Assures 'Basic Training' of Defense Force 22 Nov-14:11

The commander of East Timor's future defense forces, former Falantil guerrilla chief Taur Matan Ruak, said Wednesday agreement had been reached for Portugal to provide "basic training," while Australia would provide "specific training" later.

While questions of financing and equipping the defense force remained on the table of a donors conference underway in Dili, the issue of training had been resolved, Comd. Matan Ruak told Lusa.

His comments came as he led delegates from 12 donor countries on a tour of the possible site of the defense force's future headquarters, the former Hera Polytechnic Institute outside Dili.

The institute was partially destroyed in anti-independence militia violence last year, but an engineer told Lusa it could be rehabilitated "rapidly."

Col. Americo Paula, a member of Lisbon's delegation, said Portugal's priority would be to train officers and non-commissioned officers, who would assume responsibility for basic training of recruits under Portuguese supervision.

Recruitment and training of the first 200 soldiers is expected to begin in January, with a total of 600 to be trained by the end of 2001.

By the end of 2003, East Timor plans to have a permanent force of 1,500, to be reinforced later with an equal number of reservists.

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