Subject: Lusa: United Nations presence to continue to 2005, says head of mission

East Timor: United Nations presence to continue to 2005, says head of mission

Dili, Feb. 11 (Lusa) - The United Nations is set to prolong the mandate of its UNMISET mission to East Timor, which had been due to leave Dili in May, for another year, a senior UN official said Wednesday.

Kamalesh Sharma, UNMISET mission chief, announced the news to João Bosco Mota Amaral, the speaker of the Lisbon parliament who is currently on an official visit to Timor.

The UN Security Council will approve the extension of the UNMISET mission in March, Sharma said.

At a meeting between Sharma and the Portuguese official, at which Lusa was present, the UN`s top Dili representative praised Portugal`s "efforts in maintaining peace in Timor", especially Lisbon`s deployment of police and troops to assist UNMISET.

Mota Amaral said after the meeting: "Portugal supports the aim of the Timorese authorities for UNMISET to be extended for a year and we hope the UN presence will guarantee stability and resolve the development problems Dili faces".

Earlier, after talks with Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Mota Amaral said Timor was "on good course in the fight to achieve development and combat poverty".

"The (Timorese) authorities have the people`s support and also the backing of friendly nations", said the Lisbon official, who arrived in Dili Monday on a four-day visit.

The UN, which oversaw Dili`s transition to independence in 2002, had been due to pull out of Timor on May 20.

A general consensus has emerged in recent months among Timor's donor nations and the UN that Dili`s administrative and security structures are too flimsy to cope with a pull-out by the world body.

Meetings to prepare the continued UN aid and military mission to Timor begin Feb. 18 in New York and are to be attended by Dili`s foreign minister, José Ramos Horta.


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