Subject: KT: Seoul Mission to Open in E. Timor

Korea Times March 20, 2001, Tuesday

Seoul Mission to Open in E. Timor

Seoul will open a diplomatic mission in East Timor in the first half of this year to strengthen communications with the U.N. transitional administration and provide consular protection for Koreans stationed there, a Foreign Affairs-Trade Ministry official said yesterday.

Already, ten countries, including the United States, Japan, China and Australia, opened missions or liaison offices in East Timor, where a referendum is set for Aug. 30 to form a Constitutional assembly.

At present, 432 Korean officers and enlisted men are stationed in East Timor as part of the U.N. peacekeeping force. After winning independence from Indonesia, it is currently under the rule of the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

The official title of the mission is the Mission of the Republic of Korea in East Timor. '' With East Timor expected to emerge late this year as the first independent country of the new millennium, we are planning to step up cooperative ties with East Timor by setting up the mission,'' the official said.

If East Timor, an area with the population of 840,000 people, officially becomes independent, the Korean mission will be upgraded to an embassy, he said.

Korea has played a significant role in the process of East Timor's independence, with President Kim Dae-jung leading debates regarding the issue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

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