Last Minute Jitters on Timor - The departure of Australia’s peacekeeping force is delaying in wait of assurances from Indonesia. It hopes the first troops will leave for East Timor tomorrow. Australian Prime Minister John Howard is awaiting on assurances from the Indonesian Military. Another indication that all is not well, the senior adviser to B.J. Habibie fears violence could flare between pro-Indonesian militia and the peacekeeping force. Indonesia remains concerned about Australian leadership of the peacekeeping mission.
Cabinet Meets On Troop Deployment - Meanwhile Prime Minister Jenny Shipley will meet with her Cabinet this afternoon to formally approve the involvement of New Zealand troops in the peacekeeping force in East Timor. Mrs Shipley is expected to hold a news conference late this afternoon to formally announce which troops and forces will be committed to the UN mission. 350 military personal are likely to be sent.
Airforce Families Briefed - The Airforce is briefing the families of helicopter aircrews which will be deployed to the peacekeeping force in East Timor. Number 3 Squadron personnel are just completing training in Auckland. They are expecting Cabinet to this afternoon give approval for the squadron’s early deployment to the peacekeeping mission. Some family members are being flown in from other parts of New Zealand. The RNZAF already has a Hercules aircraft operating out of Darwin and has two others ready to be deployed.
Ansett Locks Pilots Out - ANSETT is operating on a skeleton flight schedule today after issuing 125 of its pilots with lockout notices. The notices were issued last night to fight a challenge by the pilots. They are refusing to sign a contract which would cut staff and increase flying hours. ANSETT says it will be carrying about 2000 passengers today, around a third of its normal load.
President Issues Warning To Citizens Re Floyd - The US President has warned US citizens that Hurricane Floyd will strike its east coast within hours. Winds of up to 200 kilometres an hour are thrashing seas off the South Carolina/Florida coast. Mr Clinton has ordered more federal assistance for the states lying in the path of what could be the worst storm to strike the USA this century. 3.5 million people are involved in the US’s largest peacetime evacuations. Hurricane Floyd is bearing down on North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. President Clinton, speaking from Hawaii on his way home from New Zealand, has warned Americans of Floyd’s awesome power: “I hope every citizen will heed the warnings of the officials and the recommendations to take every action to protect their families and stay out of harm’s way. Meanwhile we will continue to take extraordinary measures to protect lives and property from Hurricane Floyd.” The hurricane is expected to hit the east coast of the USA later today NZ Time.