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Minister Applauds Australian Troops


The Minister for Defence, John Moore, today applauded the professionalism and commitment of Australian troops serving overseas, particularly those in Bougainville and East Timor.

Over the past three days, the Minister has visited the Peace Monitoring Group on Bougainville in Papua New Guinea and Australian troops serving with the INTERFET operation in Timor.

Mr Moore also met with families of troops serving overseas at a 'thank you' Christmas function held in Darwin on Sunday which also was attended by the Prime Minister.

"Australian forces have made a very significant contribution to the peace process," Mr Moore said. "The manner in which they have conducted each operation has facilitated the establishment of a stable and secure environment in both Bougainville and East Timor.

"Talks between the Papua New Guinea Government and Bougainville representatives resume in the New Year. I was pleased to note the optimism shared by both sides as to the prospects for these discussions".

Mr Moore said that while Australia is committed to its peace monitoring role in Bougainville, the Government continued to encourage both parties to reach a lasting agreement which will enable Australian personnel to return home as soon as possible.

In East Timor, Mr Moore said there had been very significant progress in the reconstruction of Dili and surrounding areas since his previous visit, two months ago.

"The situation is less tense. It's clear that the people of East Timor are gaining the confidence needed to rebuild their country and return to some sense of normality.

"The INTERFET operation has made this possible and we now look forward to a timely handover to the next phase of East Timor's recovery, the United Nations' Transitional Administration (UNTAET)."

Mr Moore also travelled to the East Timorese enclave of Oeucussi where he met troops from 3RAR based in Holsworthy.

"In Timor and in Bougainville, Australian personnel have displayed the highest levels of professionalism and humanitarian commitment. On behalf of the Government and all Australians, I say 'thank you', wish the troops and their families a happy Christmas, and look forward to welcoming our troops home, as quickly as possible."

Media release from the Hon. John Moore MP - Minister for Defence

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