Subject: TNI ready to secure UN agencies in western Timor

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Antara, September 16, 2004

TNI ready to secure UN agencies in western Timor

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: The Indonesian Military (TNI) is ready to provide protection for UN agencies that reopen in East Nusa Tenggara province, the western part of Timor island, a local commander said on Wednesday.

"Actually, it is the duty of the police, but we are ready to help the police guard the country," Wirasakti Military Resort Commander Col. Maswardi Moesanip said.

"We are ready to protect UN agencies if they want to reopen their offices in the province," he added, speaking after a meeting with UN Representative to Indonesia Bo Asplund.

The Wirasakti Military Resort oversees East Nusa Tenggara, or West Timor, which borders East Timor.

Asplund was visiting the area to assess the Alert V status imposed by the UN Security Council since the Sept. 6, 2000, killing of three UN humanitarian workers allegedly by former East Timorese taking refuge in the province.

All UN agencies helping the refugees were ordered to pull out from East Nusa Tenggara until security returns to normal.

The Security Council plans to downgrade the status to Alert IV, which would allow UN agencies to resume operations.

"Asplund, however, was concerned about the safety of UN employees once they resume operations, and requested protection from the police and the military," said Maswardi.

Maswardi further said an Alert IV status would not reflect the current condition in the province, which is relatively peaceful.

"The status is similar to those applied in Iraq, although it is much, much safer here," he said.

"Actually the UN ... should downgrade it directly to safe status. Perhaps the UN wants to do so gradually."

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