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Indonesian Military And Militias Must Go Now

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurie Brereton, today welcomed President Habibie's announcement overnight that the Indonesian Government is prepared to accept an international peacekeeping force in East Timor.

"This is a very positive development, but there is still a long way to go before peace and security are established and the East Timorese are able to enjoy their freedom", Mr Brereton said.

"It is a great tragedy that so many people had to die before Australia and the international community finally brought sufficient pressure to bear to make Jakarta begin to see sense."

"Any sense of triumphalism on the part of the Howard Government rings very hollow as one considers the appalling cost of their ready acceptance of Indonesia's undertakings to maintain peace and security in East Timor."

"Indonesia's agreement to UN peacekeepers must be unconditional. Foreign Minister Alatas should agree to the detail of peacekeeping, but there can be no negotiation about which and how many peacekeepers may go into East Timor."

"Implementation of peacekeeping must begin without delay. Food drops to refugees must commence immediately and peacekeepers must be on the ground in hours, not days or weeks. Any delay is likely to see more killing and horror."

"The international community must insist that the pro-integrationist militias are immediately disbanded forthwith and that the Indonesian military leave East Timor as soon as possible."

"The continued presence of the TNI risks further violence including backing for militia plans to retain control of the western districts of East Timor."

"Commitment of the Australian Defence Force to this peacekeeping operation clearly involves risk to Australian personnel. This risk will be significantly greater while the Indonesian military and militias remain in East Timor."

"The Indonesian military have no legitimate role in East Timor. They must go."

"Australia is duty bound to massively increase our humanitarian relief and assistance for the reconstruction of East Timor."

"The burning of Dili together with the destruction of so many towns and the territory's infrastructure will require vastly greater assistance than any estimate to date. Australia must respond generously and without delay."


ENDS

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