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NZ Mission And Aid For East Timor

New Zealand will open a Liaison Office accredited to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and has boosted its aid funding for education initiatives in East Timor, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Associate Foreign Minister Matt Robson announced today.

Mr Goff and Mr Robson met with East Timorese leader, Xanana Gusmao, and discussed the measures today. “They are tangible expressions of New Zealand’s continuing active involvement in rebuilding East Timor,” the Ministers said.

“Mr Gusmao explained the important work that East Timorese and UNTAET are doing to build the constitutional, economic and administrative foundations of an independent East Timor over the next year or two. A New Zealand diplomatic presence in East Timor during this crucial formative stage will help us assist that process."

The New Zealand Liaison Office to UNTAET, to be staffed by a diplomat, is scheduled to open in September. It will manage New Zealand aid to East Timor and consolidate our links with East Timorese and UN leaders. The Office will operate during UNTAET’s tenure in East Timor, which is expected to continue until late 2001.

The Ministers said, “Many Indonesian-trained technical and professional people left East Timor after last year’s independence ballot. Aid funding of $400,000 annually has been allocated to allow up to ten East Timorese to study at New Zealand universities, helping meet the country’s pressing need for university-trained professionals.

“Funding of $30,000 will support UNICEF children’s programmes in East Timor. Further funding will be provided for developing a pre-school education strategy through home-based community programmes."

New Zealand has provided a total of $2 million in Official Development Assistance funding for East Timor in this year's Budget. Other NZODA activities under way in East Timor include provision of New Zealand police, prisons, customs and judicial personnel. Further initiatives are being considered in diplomatic and judicial training.

Contact: Paul Goldsmith 471 9794, or Josie Harbutt, 470 6676

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