Subject: AFP: Australia, UN sign Timor agreement

Also AKI: East Timor: Tripartite Pact Signed

Australia, UN sign Timor agreement

From correspondents in Dili

January 26, 2007 11:06pm Article from: Agence France-Presse

AUSTRALIA and the UN signed an agreement today with East Timor to help coordinate security assistance in the small but troubled country, the UN said.

The agreement establishes a trilateral forum to discuss security issues and ensure co-ordination between the Timorese Government, UN and Australian-led international peacekeepers who were deployed following unrest last year.

It was "a useful step forward in clarifying how security cooperation between the three bodies will move forward in a way that will promote a sustainable stability in Timor-Leste," UN special representative Atul Khare said.

"We are here to assist and support the Government of Timor-Leste, but it is the Timorese who have the prime responsibility for maintenance of security and stability," he said.

An outbreak of violence in Dili in May 2006 saw 37 killed when clashes between security force factions degenerated into street violence, pitting members of street gangs and rival martial art schools against each other.

More people have since been killed in sporadic violence in Dili and surrounding districts.

The violence prompted the fledgling nation to seek the deployment of foreign peacekeepers and UN police, and the installation of a new government in July headed by Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner.



Dili, 26 Jan (AKI) - A Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] of trilateral cooperation between East Timor, the United Nations and Australia was signed in Dili, on Friday. The signing ceremony was presided by the Ambassador of Australia to East Timor, Margaret Twomey, UN envoy to East Timor, Atul Khare and East Timor Foreign Minister, Jose Luis Guterres. According to the signatories, the aim of the MoU is to reaffirm Australia and the United Nation's respect for East Timor sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity as well as confirming their commitment to work for a long lasting stability in East Timor, also known as Timor Leste.

At the end of the ceremony, Guterres stressed that the agreement is not meant to indicate a deadline for the Australian or New Zealander troops' stay in East Timor.

"Their presence is at our government's request. It depends on us and on the situation in East Timor. So, they will stay here for some years," he told reporters.

On the matter, Margaret Twomey, Australia ambassador to East Timor, confirmed to AdnKronos International [AKI] that Australian and New Zealand troops will stay in East Timor for a long time.

From Australia's point of view, our commitment is long term and we will stay [in East Timor] as long as we are needed," the envoy told AKI.

Meanwhile, Australian Brigadier General and International Security Forces Commander Malcolm Rerden told AKI that the agreement will change little on the ground.

It does not lead to great changes. There is already a close cooperation and coordination at all levels," said the chief of the 850 Australian and 150 New Zealand soldiers, currently in East Timor.

Dili requested the deployment of international troops back in May, after a dispute within the tiny country's Armed Forces degenerated into street violence. The crisis forced former Prime Minister Marui Alkatiri to resign, left 37 dead and forced thousands to flee their homes. Sporadic violence has continued ever since.


Jan-26-07 14:25

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