Subject: AP: UN Hails Progress Toward Food Self-sufficiency In E Timor

UN Hails Progress Toward Food Self-sufficiency In E Timor

ROME (AP, May 17)--The U.N. World Food Program said Friday it will close its office in East Timor June 30, hailing the progress made to meet its own food needs after requiring emergency assistance three years ago.

As East Timor prepares to become an independent nation Monday, the Rome-based U.N. agency said "great strides have been made in just a few short years toward reaching food self-sufficiency."

The former colony of Portugal was annexed and ruled by Indonesia for 24 years.

The food agency began emergency assistance in 1999 during the devastation caused by retreating Indonesian troops and their militia proxies following the independence vote. At the outset, it supplied emergency foods rations to 413,000 people, about half the population.

"Agricultural production has recovered so well in East Timor that the harvests are back to pre-1999 levels," said John Powell, director of the agency's regional bureau for Asia.

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