|Subject: AP: Australia Lists Terms For E. Timor
Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 08:01:03 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo:
March 31, 1999
Australia Lists Terms For East Timor Peacekeeping Forces
Dow Jones Newswires
CANBERRA (AP)--Australia would contribute to a U.N. peacekeeping force in East Timor if a peaceful transition in the disputed territory could not be realized, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Wednesday.
Spelling out for the first time the terms under which Australia might take part in an international peacekeeping mission, Downer said the U.N. must set a clear and achievable mandate for any peacekeeping force.
"We hope that East Timor's transition can be handled in such a way that peacekeeping forces are simply not required," Downer told the National Press Club.
"But if that does not eventuate, and if the U.N. makes the call...Australia will respond appropriately, bearing all the considerations I've listed in mind."
Other requirements include a clear idea of what the costs might be, an assessment of Australia's commitments in other areas and an assessment of the risks for Australian personnel.
The Australian government has previously said it would contribute to U.N efforts to oversee an autonomy ballot in East Timor, but has refused to speculate on sending peacekeeping troops.
In a reversal of an old policy, Indonesian officials have said they would let go of East Timor if its people reject the autonomy proposal. But many separatists suspect that Indonesia, which invaded the territory in 1975 and annexed it a year later, is not sincere.
This year, tensions have grown in the territory and there have been more clashes between supporters and opponents of independence. Fighting between separatist guerrillas and Indonesian soldiers dwindled years ago.
In Jakarta, East Timor's detained rebel chief Jose Alexandre Gusmao accused the Indonesian military of conspiring to undermine the autonomy vote by arming civilian militias in order to create chaos.
Downer said Indonesia's Foreign Minister Ali Alatas had assured him that the armed forces were not supplying arms to the militias.