Subject: KY: Japan to send fact-finding teams to E. Timor Sunday

Japan to send fact-finding teams to E. Timor Sun.

TOKYO, Nov. 16 (Kyodo) - The Japanese government decided Friday to send two teams to East Timor on Sunday in preparation for the dispatch of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) troops next spring to take part in U.N. peacekeeping operations, according to Japanese officials.

The dispatch of one team made up of personnel from the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Agency, and an expert team of agency staff comes ahead of the GSDF's expected dispatch in March to East Timor before the territory gains full independence, they said.

The two teams will meet with local leaders and U.N. officials to discuss the duties and scale of the GSDF contingent and inspect sites for GSDF activities.

The government team will stay there from Sunday to Friday, while the team of agency staff will leave Nov. 27.

On Nov. 6, the cabinet of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi ordered government ministries and agencies to begin preparations for the dispatch of about 700 GSDF members, mainly from the Northern Army in Hokkaido, in March to take part in U.N. peacekeeping operations.

The contingent will be as large as the one Japan sent to Cambodia in 1992 to join the PKO there, hitherto the biggest deployment of SDF members on a peacekeeping mission.

The GSDF troops are expected to take over operations currently being conducted by Pakistani and Bangladeshi forces such as building and repairing roads and bridges in areas bordering Indonesia's West Timor. They will be dispatched for about two years, the sources said.

East Timor, which held its first legislative elections for a constituent assembly on Aug. 30, two years after its historic referendum on independence from Indonesia, is expected to gain full independence in May next year.

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