Subject: CONG: Rep. Leach letter re. peacekeeping in E. Timor

October 10, 2001

The Honorable Colin L. Powell Secretary U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing in regard to East Timor's impending transition to independence, and the question of United States support for a United Nations successor mission to the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). In my judgment, the Administration should support a credible post-independence U.N. presence in East Timor and, if necessary, be prepared to fund such a presence from assessed contributions.

As you know, the late September appointment of the Council of Ministers, and the peaceful election of a Constituent Assembly which it followed, marked crucial steps on the road to East Timorese independence. The people of East Timor and UNTAET deserve enormous credit for their achievements in the face of tremendous odds. But as Jose Ramos-Horta, Nobel Laureate and Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs in the East Timor transitional government, emphasized in a recent meeting with Members of Congress, it would be premature to equate East Timor's attainment of independence with the establishment of effective institutions of administration. In fact, not only the transitional government in East Timor, but several of our friends and allies in East Asia strongly support the maintenance of an appropriately-sized U.N. military, police and civilian presence in East Timor until such time as the new country has established a truly self-sustaining administration and the security situation is fully stabilized.

I understand that the Department may be reluctant to support a follow-on U.N. presence due to perceived concerns by some in Congress with the effectiveness of the U.N. and the budgetary implications of new peacekeeping commitments. Here I would simply note even the most skeptical critic of the U.N. should recognize that the Security Council has been extraordinarily cooperative with the U.S. in this time of challenge, and that if a modest U.N. presence is essential to ensuring the success of U.S. and international efforts to support an independent and democratic East Timor, then it is an investment well worth making.

With best regards,

James A. Leach Member of Congress

cc: Hon. John D. Negroponte, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Hon. James A. Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State, East Asia and the Pacific Hon. William B. Wood, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs JL:jwm

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