Subject: UN Probe Jordan Troops In E Timor Over Alleged Misconduct; King Abdullah Visits

Associated Press June 22, 2001

UN Probe Jordan Troops In E Timor Over Alleged Misconduct

OECUSSI (East Timor)--U.N. administrators in East Timor said Friday that they were investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against Jordanian peacekeepers.

"Investigations are ongoing into allegations of sexual misconduct by Jordanian peacekeepers," said U.N. spokeswoman Barbara Reuse. She declined to release details of allegations.

East Timor's U.N. administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello told The Associated Press that the world body would deal with the claims thoroughly.

"Any allegation will always be investigated. They have been investigated in the past," he said.

De Mello said that peacekeepers who were tried and found guilty of misconduct would be punished.

The announcement coincided with a one-day visit by Jordan's King Abdullah II, who met many of his nation's 800 troops and 120 police officers who are serving in the half-island territory as part of a bigger U.N. force.

King Abdullah arrived in East Timor on Friday and made no comment to reporters. He was met by top U.N. officials, including de Mello and East Timorese Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, who acts as the territory's foreign minister.

The monarch visited the isolated enclave of Oecussi where all the Jordanian soldiers are based and spoke to Jordanian police officers in the town of Baucau, near the border with Indonesian-controlled West Timor.

His brother, Prince Feisal, said the king wanted to judge how the peacekeepers and police officers were performing.

"It is an opportunity for him to come and see his troops, as the commander of the Jordanian armed forces, to look at what they are doing, (to see) what more can be done and also look at ways of improving the effectiveness of the operations here," Prince Feisal said.

There are 7,000 peacekeepers from several nations in East Timor. The force arrived in 1999 after the territory voted to break away from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored referendum.

Results of the ballot sparked a bloody rampage by anti-independence militias that ended only after international peacekeepers were deployed.

Jordanian peacekeepers arrived in East Timor in February last year.

Allegations of sexual misconduct have also been made against troops from other nations serving in East Timor. In January last year, several Australian soldiers were accused of sexually harassing local women.

King Abdullah flew into East Timor from the city of Darwin in northern Australia. Earlier this week, he spent two days in Singapore to boost economic ties between the rich island-state and Jordan.

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