Subject: AFP: Timor welcomes police plan

Agence France-Presse

E. Timor welcomes police plan March 8, 2004

EAST Timor today welcomed proposals to form a new foreign police unit, including Australian officers, to boost security after the current United Nations mission is scaled down in May.

The Foreign Ministry said Australia, Britain and the United States had suggested the creation of a 125-strong armed emergency response police unit, in addition to the 310-strong military peacekeeping force proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta has told Dili diplomats and the United Nations his government "welcomes the joint initiative by Australia-UK-US," the ministry said in a statement.

"The Government sees merit in this addition to the very important report of the secretary-general as it does provide extra deterrence value," the statement quoted Ramos-Horta as saying.

"The only point the Government... wishes to emphasise is that it will retain executive authority over our own law and order agencies, namely, our national police."

In a report to the UN Security Council last month, 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 the former Indonesian province 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.

Annan proposed a 310-strong peacekeeping force plus 42 military liaison officers, 157 civilian police advisers and 58 advisers to support the public administration and justice system.

There are currently 1,750 UN peacekeepers, 125 police officers, 200 police advisers and 70 civilian advisers. Annan said no new recent violence had been reported by former pro-Jakarta militiamen.

But "reports of sightings of armed gangs and criminal elements in districts bordering (Indonesian) West Timor continued, as did suggestions of preparations for destabilising activity by Timorese groups with unclear agendas."

Agence France-Presse

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