Subject: RA: East Timor urged to seek more help from Australia

Radio Australia

East Timor urged to seek more help from Australia

Last Updated 28/12/2006, 20:14:30

East Timor's Prime Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, says he's being urged to seek more assistance from Australia to help stabilise his country.

37 people were killed and about 150,000 fled their homes in the capital, Dili, during violence earlier this year.

East Timor has also been shaken by a recent surge in gang violence.

Our reporter Steve Holland spoke to Dr Ramos Horta.

The East Timorese leader says he will consider seeking additional assistance from Australian police.

"I have had a discussion with many political leaders. They were all very praising of Australian police and the told me, they urged me, to try to get more Australian police involved.", he said.

Dr Ramos Horta also expects a revamped model of the country's police force to begin patrolling the country early next year.

He says East Timor is getting closer to achieving stability and country's financial outlook is also looking brighter.

East Timor's treasury is expected to be boosted in 2007 with plans to harness the country's oil and gas reserves.

East Timor's attempts to tap into the oil and gas sector are seen as a way of ensuring the country's financial security.

Earlier this month East Timor signed a deal with Kuwait to distribute oil and gas and build fuel storage facilities across the country.

Dr Jose Ramos Horta told Radio Australia that plans are underway to utilise his country's oil and gas reserves.

He says he is optimistic about East Timor's financial future.

"With oil and gas resources from the Timor Sea, starting this month, East Timor will get an average of 100 million dollars a month - a billion dollars a year - in oil and gas revenues, more than any small island country in this region is getting.", said Dr Ramos Horta.

"So there is no reason for this country not to move ahead and be prosperous."

Dr Ramos Horta attributes much of East Timor's prosperous outlook to outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

He praised Mr Annan for his contribution to international relations.

Kofi Annan is set be replaced by former South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon who will assume the post of UN Secretary-General on January the first 2007.

Dr Ramos Horta says Mr Annan transformed the United Nations.

"He brought the UN closer to the common people. He popularised the UN around the world, an institution that was abstract, aloof from the people 10-20 years ago, became much more familiar with the people. So he is leaving behind an extraordinary legacy, more than any of his predecessors." 

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