Subject: KY: UN begins withdrawal of peacekeepers from E. Timor

Kyodo News Service

November 14, 2001 Wednesday

U.S. (sic) begins withdrawal of peacekeepers from E. Timor

DILI, Nov. 14

United Nations peacekeeping troops began a phased draw-down of forces in East Timor on Wednesday with the withdrawal of 265 Kenyan troops from the Ermera District about 30 kilometers south of the capital Dili.

The Kenyans, who have operated in the district since December 1999, will be sent home and a smaller Ermera operation will then be taken over by a Portuguese battalion.

As East Timor heads towards independence on May 20 next year, the transitional government will gradually assume greater responsibility for running of the country while the peacekeepers and the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor gradually withdraw.

The U.N. Security Council has agreed the number of peacekeepers will be reduced from 8,000 to about 5,000 over the next six months.

The reduction is line with a recent request by East Timor's chief minister, Mari Alkatiri, to the Security Council in which he stressed the importance of institution-building and the gradual transfer of administrative functions to East Timorese civil servants ahead of independence.

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