Subject: LUSA: Dili, Australians jointly coordinating security, says minister

26-05-2006 12:58:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-8025786 Temas:

East Timor: Dili, Australians jointly coordinating security, says minister

Dili, May 26 (Lusa) - The East Timorese government and Australian peacekeeping forces are jointly coordinating security in the crisis-wracked country under a bilateral accord, while awaiting approval of an UN-mandated mission, a senior Timorese minister said Friday.

"The command of the operations is ours, jointly with (the Australians", Minister of State Ana Pessoa told Lusa by telephone.

"The operational areas are defined in daily meetings where it is determined what each one will do and up to where each may go".

The bilateral accord signed Thursday night, Pessoa said, stipulated "security coordination" between the government and the Australian force, commanded by Brig. Michael Slater, but assured "operational autonomy" for Dili's army.

She said the Australian force, which began arriving Thursday, and additional troops and police expected from Portugal, New Zealand and Malaysia were being deployed on a "bilateral level" while Dili awaits the UN Security Council to mandate the creation of an international stabilization force.

A Timorese military source told Lusa that armed forces chief Brig. Gen. Taur Matan Ruak ordered a "cessation of hostilities" with dissident soldiers and police Thursday night after the bilateral agreement was signed with Australia.

"We will only act if we come under attack. We are cooperating with the international forces", the officer said.

In Canberra, Australian armed forces chief Marshal Angus Houston said Dili awoke "very much calmer" Friday but that the situation remained "unstable and dangerous".

"We received no word of significant confrontations during the night, but East Timor continues unstable and dangerous", he said.

In Dili, Australian paratroop commander Lt. Col. Michael Mumford told Lusa arriving Australian forces would observe strict neutrality towards Timor's divided and warring security forces.

"We're not interested in accusing or supporting this or that faction", he said. "We're here to re-establish stability for the population" in hopes of contributing to peace talks.



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