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Minister Of Defence To Visit East Timor

The Minister of Defence Mark Burton is leading a delegation to East Timor this week.

The Minister's party includes Auckland Central MP Judith Tizard, Rangitikei MP Simon Power, and the Mayor of Palmerston North Jill White.

"I met a number of the personnel now serving in East Timor during their training at Linton Camp near Palmerston North," Mark Burton said.

"This visit is an opportunity to get a first-hand update on the situation in East Timor, and will reinforce the continued parliamentary and community support for the outstanding job our defence force personnel are doing."

The Minister's party will leave Whenuapai aboard a scheduled RNZAF Hercules resupply flight, on Tuesday (30th January).

After a stopover in Darwin, the party will arrive in Dili on Wednesday.

There will be briefings from senior East Timorese and United Nations representatives, and meetings with New Zealand Police, Customs officers and prison officers working in Dili.

There will also be a visit to Rumbia School. Rumbia School has been 'adopted' by the Kiwis stationed in Dili, and in conjunction with Palmerston North City Council, they have been upgrading the school and providing stationery and school equipment for the pupils.

The Minister's party will depart Wednesday evening for Suai. After a formal welcome to the New Zealand Battalion Group's Forward Operating Base in Suai, they will receive an operations briefing, detailing the current state of the mission in the Western Sector.

There will also be an opportunity to meet many of the military and civilian staff who work at the Forward Operating Base in Suai, including those who work at the Forward Surgical Team hospital.

On Thursday, the party will visit the RNZAF 3 Squadron Helicopter Detachment and meet components of the Fiji and Nepalese Companies, who serve as part of the composite New Zealand Battalion Group.
The party will tour Suai and visit Kiwi troops working in two of the remote border locations.

"We hope to see a number of the civil and military projects that the Battalion has been involved in, including the distribution of humanitarian aid donated from New Zealand," Mark Burton said.

The Ministerial party will then depart East Timor on a RNZAF Hercules. After a stopover in Darwin, the flight will arrive back in New Zealand late Friday night.

End

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