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World Awaits Jakarta’s Statement On Peacekeepers

By Selwyn Manning

World leaders gathered in Auckland for the APEC leader’s summit meetings are tonight waiting for a statement from Indonesian President B.J. Habibie on whether an international peacekeeping force will be asked into East Timor to help restore peace.

The Indonesian Cabinet is locked into a crisis meeting in Jakarta to decide whether to keep East Timor’s borders closed to a foreign forces or issue an invitation to restore peace.

President Habibie’s statement is expected at between 11pm and midnight, New Zealand time.

Press secretary to Britain’s foreign minister Robin Cook, Kim Darroch, told Scoop minutes ago that Britain had little information regarding which way President Habibie would swing.

Mr Darroch told Scoop that the British Government has agreed to send one infantry company, consisting of around 150 to 200 soldiers, to back an international peacekeeping contingent to East Timor should President Habibie request assistance.

The British naval ship, HMS Glasgow, is also close to reaching the waters off East Timor. The ship had restocked in Singapore two days ago before heading to sea.

Meanwhile, back in Auckland, New Zealand Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, is awaiting the Indonesian response to Japan’s call today for it to allow in peacekeepers.

Mrs Shipley’s press secretary, Simon King, said she would not be making any statements on the situation before receiving the Indonesian statement and would not likely comment on what stance New Zealand would follow until the morning, New Zealand time.



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