Subject: Aus defence minister visits E.Timor

also Fitzgibbon opens E Timor training wing

March 5, 2009

Aus minister visits E.Timor


DILI - AUSTRALIA'S defence minister and military chief held talks with East Timor's leaders here on Thursday at the start of a two-day visit to the country, a spokesman said.

Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, armed forces chief Angus Houston and Veterans Affairs Minister Alan Griffin met President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, the spokesman for Fitzgibbon said.

They will open an Australian-funded military training centre at Metinaro, outside Dili, and visit some of the 650 Australian troops stationed in East Timor Friday before heading back to Australia.

The 'Specialist Training Wing' will instruct local troops in areas such as communication, logistics, engineering and medical skills, Fitzgibbon said in a statement.

Australian soldiers make up most of the UN-authorised International Stabilisation Force, which has been in the country since factional fighting in 2006 left at least 37 dead.

Australia last year announced a reduction in its troop deployment to East Timor by about 100 personnel because of an improved security situation in the country, which achieved independence from Indonesia in 2002.

Australian troop numbers peaked earlier in 2008 in the wake of armed attacks by rebel soldiers on Ramos-Horta and Gusmao.

Twenty-eight people, including the Australian girlfriend of the rebel leader who was slain in the attacks, are due to appear in court in Dili soon, facing charges ranging from attempted murder to conspiracy to murder. -- AFP


ABC News

Fitzgibbon opens E Timor training wing

Posted 7 hours 31 minutes ago

Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has opened an Australian-funded specialist training wing for East Timor's fledgling military.

The Metinaro facility will provide training in communications, logistics, engineering and medical skills.

Mr Fitzgibbon is also holding talks with East Timor's leaders on progress towards them becoming self-reliant for security.

While the security situation in the country has improved, Mr Fitzgibbon says Australia's troops will stay as long as East Timor says it needs them.

"The progress is excellent but still early, and peace and stability remains relatively fragile here, but really good progress is being made and our people - in addition to maintaining stability - are doing wonderful work in training the East Timorese security forces," he said.


Defence minister heads to East Timor

March 5, 2009 - 11:39AM

Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon sets off to East Timor on Thursday for a two-day visit featuring top level talks with East Timorese officials.

Mr Fitzgibbon will be accompanied by Veterans Affairs Minister Alan Griffin and Defence head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

During the visit, they will officially open the Australian-funded specialist training wing at Metinaro and visit Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel deployed as part of the International Stabilisation Force in East Timor.

The delegation will attend several high level meetings with East Timorese officials including President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

They will also meet Mr Gusmao's wife, Australian-born Kirsty Sword-Gusmao, to discuss the work of her Alola Foundation.

"I am honoured to have been invited by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to open the specialist training wing," Mr Fitzgibbon said in a statement.

The specialist training wing will provide high quality specialist training for the East Timor Defence Force in areas such as communication, logistics, engineering and medical skills, and will be delivered by Australian Defence Cooperation personnel.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he was also looking forward to meeting ADF men and women on the ground and congratulating them on their professionalism, hard work and commitment to the stability and security of East Timor.

Delegation members will also tour an Australian Armidale Class Patrol Boat conducting a goodwill visit to the country.

<> AAP

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