Subject: Lusa: Portugal to Beef Up Peacekeeping Force - Gama

East Timor: Portugal to Beef Up Peacekeeping Force - Gama 19 Oct-12:40

Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama Thursday reaffirmed Lisbon's intention to reduce its UN peacekeeping commitments in the Balkans to reinforce its contingent in East Timor.

"Portugal would like to concentrate its efforts in UN peacekeeping missions in (East) Timor," Gama said in Seoul, where he was holding discussions with Asian counterparts on the upcoming summit of European Union and Asian leaders in the South Korean capital.

The UN, he added, had asked Portugal to beef up its presence in East Timor, where Lisbon currently has a 700-strong peacekeeping contingent.

The "format" of additional peacekeeping aid to Timor could be announced before the end of this year, in tandem with a planned reduction in the Portuguese contingent in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province, he told journalists after a meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minsiter Alwi Shihab.

Defense Minister Julio Castro Caldas had earlier announced that Lisbon planned to prune back its UN commitments in the Balkans to reinforce its presence in East Timor.

Gama also said that Portugal was "ready to help resolve the problem" of refugees in Indonesian West Timor and urged Jakarta to act to register them, disarm anti-East Timor militias and "punish" those responsible for atrocities.

Saying he had no doubts about the "political will" of the Indonesian government, Gama said Jakarta had taken some steps to resolve these problems "but certainly can do more."

Underlining Lisbon's desire "to see the consolidation of democracy" in Indonesia, Gama said Shihab would visit Portugal next year and that the two countries were "negotiating some accords."

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