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'Changing of the guard' isn't long term solution

Wayne Mapp
National Defence Spokesperson

5 September 2000

'Changing of the guard' isn't long term solution

"Keeping New Zealand soldiers stationed in East Timor indefinitely won't address the real problem in the region," National's Defence Spokesman Wayne Mapp said today.

The Government's announced a third tour of duty for New Zealand soldiers - which will see around 600 kiwis stationed in East Timor until late May 2002. And Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff says there may be need for a further tour of duty after that.

"If we really want to help the new country of East Timor to establish itself we should be laying the foundations for a proper exit strategy. In other words we should be training the East Timorese to look after their own security," Dr Mapp said.

"This is an approach which I have been recommending for some time. It's time the Government gave the United Nations the clear message that there is an urgent need to start training the future East Timorese army.

"New Zealand is taking a heavy burden that gives us the authority to very clearly point the way forward.

"It's like the old piece of wisdom about the relative merits of giving a man a fish, or teaching him how to fish. It was always intended that New Zealand soldiers would be there to bring initial stability to the country - but that's not a long-term solution.

"In the long-term the East Timorese must become responsible for their own security. Training from New Zealand and Australian troops can help them achieve that.

"Our soldiers will need to be in East Timor for quite some time. That situation will never change until the Government starts taking steps to ensure we help the East Timorese take charge of their own security," Dr Mapp said.

Ends




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