Subject: Australian troop reduction in East Timor on cards

also Support troops leave Australia for conflict zones

ABC Radio Australia

Australian troop reduction in East Timor on cards

Updated September 8, 2008 16:09:59

Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon is hopeful Australia will soon be able to consider reducing its military involvement in East Timor although he is unable to commit to a date.

Australia has around 1,000 troops and police officers serving in East Timor alongside the United Nations contingent.

Mr Fitzgibbon acknowledges the environment is still not stabilised enough to consider an immediate troop reduction.

"We're very, very happy with progress in East Timor as is the East Timorese government but peace and stability remains fragile so its pretty clear that we'll be there for some time to come," he said.

"But I like to believe, in the not too distant future and I think that this view is shared by Prime Minister Gusmao, that we could start drawing down our troop numbers in East Timor."


Support troops leave Australia for conflict zones

Updated September 8, 2008 08:15:25

A farewell parade is being held today for Australian troops based in Darwin who are heading to Afghanistan, Iraq and East Timor.

Major Andrew Bird says about 1,400 troops from Robertson Army Barracks will be deployed overseas over the next few months.

"The soldiers will be supporting operations in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Baghdad and I guess today is a real chance to thank the soldiers that are deploying to serve Australia," he said.

"It's also a chance to to recognise their sacrifice and the significant sacrifice of their family and loved ones."


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