Subject: Lusa: Tons of outgoing mail await payment of UN debts to airlines

Lusa: Tons of outgoing mail await payment of UN debts to airlines

Dili, May 28 (Lusa) - More than eight tons of outgoing mail has accumulated at East Timor's international airport since February due to the United Nations' failure to honor contracts with two foreign airlines, a post office official said Friday.

The official told Lusa that Australian carrier Qantas and Germany's Lufthansa were refusing to continue their contracted postal services until they received payment of some USD 250,000, or euros 203,000, owed by the former UN transition administration for services rendered between 2000 and 2002.

Incoming mail has not suffered delays since the two airlines began their boycott of outgoing mail Feb. 20, the official said.

The East Timorese government, he added, was considering paying the arrears to break the disruptive deadlock.

The post office official said that Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri had written to former UNTAET mission chief, Kamalesh Sharma, whose mandate ended May 20, urging him to resolve the issue but had received a negative reply.

"The UN left more than a legacy during its administration of East Timor; it also left debts that are affecting the credibility" of the country's postal service, the official said.

The UN governed East Timor through its UNTAET transition administration from the country's 1999 plebiscite to break with Indonesian rule until independence on May 20, 2002.


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