Subject: Timor Angered at Embassy

Australian Financial Review
September 18, 2002

Timor angry at embassy

Geoffrey Barker

East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao yesterday criticised the heavily armed Australian army presence in front of the Australian embassy in Dili and demanded that Australia co-ordinate this with the East Timor Government.

Mr Gusmao's criticism was published as the main front-page article in the Timor Post newspaper.

Reacting to post-September 11 security threats, Australia has reduced its Dili embassy staff to a skeleton staff of three. Huge metal shipping containers have been placed each side of an army vehicle at the embassy entrance. A camouflage tarpaulin apparently covers a gun mounted on top of the vehicle.

Access has been further restricted by the use of large street dividers. Four Australian soldiers in full battle gear, armed with Steyr rifles, are positioned in front of the embassy.

Calls to the embassy yesterday were answered with a recorded message saying it was closed until further notice.

Consular calls are directed to a Canberra telephone number. The Australian Ambassador, Paul Foley, could not be reached, but it is understood he was due to address a meeting tonight on future security precautions at the embassy.

In the article, Mr Gusmao said the embassy had not attended East Timor government security briefings and had broken protocols by putting heavily armed soldiers in front of the embassy building.

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