Subject: Poland ready to help E Timor

Herald Sun

Poland ready to help E Timor From correspondents in Warsaw 02apr04

POLAND is prepared to join international efforts to help East Timor and hopes a UN peacekeeping mission there will be extended, Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said today.

"We hope that this mission will be prolonged and that international aid will be given to East Timor for as long as necessary," he told a joint news conference with East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta.

"If we can contribute in whatever way in making this UN assistance more effective, we are ready to do so," he said.

In a report to the UN Security Council in February, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed a one-year extension for the current UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) after its mandate expires on May 20, but with a big cut in the number of peacekeeping troops and support staff.

The UN took over the running of the country in 1999 after the departure of Indonesian troops and their local militias, who left much of East Timor in ruins.

East Timor became independent on May 20, 2002, but a UN mission stayed on to help Asia's poorest nation through its early years.

At the meeting, during the first visit to Poland by East Timor's foreign minister, the ministers said they discussed the need to reform the UN.

"I have also believed for a long time that the UN has to reform, to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century.

"In this respect, even though we are a very very small voice in the world we have had a lot of experience in dealing with the United Nations, we have benefitted a lot from the UN in helping us," Ramos-Horta said.

"But at the same time we know the failures, the weakness of the multilateral system. The multilateral system can not be just on paper, it has to be credible, it has to be effective on the ground and it has to adapt to the current challenges," he said.

Ramos-Horta, a prominent independence activist, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, jointly with East Timor's then Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo.

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