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Peacekeepers In East Timor Within Days?

Foreign Minister Don McKinnon says there is a growing belief that there will be a peacekeeping force within days as pressure mounts on Indonesia.

The Indonesian's have found themselves trapped in a diplomatic vice that has been tightened in the last 24 hours by Bill Clinton and the IMF. Their declaration that they now have largely regained control in East Timor has yet to be supported by any third party and will do little to relieve international pressure.

Before he left for the APEC meeting in New Zealand, the US President suspended military ties with Indonesia and warned of "dire" economic consequences if Jakarta failed to end the violence. NZ and others quickly followed the lead.

Yesterday in an unusual move the International Monetary Fund suspended discussions with Indonesia on its economic programme. It has so far lent Indonesia US$12 billion as the country struggles to come out of economic ruin and chaos.

"IMF management continues to keep under close review ongoing developments in Indonesia and discussions for the next programme review are on hold," said the IMF after earlier warnings from the IMF that Indonesia faces a loss of financial aid if it is unable to solve the East Timor crisis.

No international correspondents spoken to by Scoop can recall the IMF taking such immediate action over a political matter. The IMF say they cannot be indifferent to Indonesia's political problems as "An IMF programme can only be successful if there is the necessary internal as well as external support to the efforts."

The more cynical have commented that the IMF's continuing problems with the corrupt and mainly bankrupt banking sector in Indonesia may have been as much of a concern for the IMF as the humanitarian concerns

The IMF mission to Jakarta, scheduled for later in the month to discuss the next round of lending is now on hold. $US$47 billion has been pledged by the West, $25 billion from the World Bank, the IMF's sister institution.

As international pressure lays the way for a peace keeping for force, Australia said it was ready and able to send troops to East Timor even without support from the United States.

Australian Defence Minister John Moore says they have a reasonable coalition together right now with 2,000 troops on alert in Darwin, 690 km from East Timor. It is believed that Indonesia has around 30,000 troops in East Timor.

The RNZAF has contributed one Hercules, the frigate Te Kaha and the navy tanker Endeavour. Troops are also on stand-by.


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