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Customs Extends E. Timor Commitment B

Customs Extends E. Timor Commitment Beyond Elections

Support for East Timor by the New Zealand Customs Service is to be extended, Acting Customs Minister Jim Anderton announced today.

Independence elections in East Timor are due on 30 August. Elected representatives will draft a new constitution for the first new independent state in the United Nations of the 21st century.

New Zealand has had Customs staff in East Timor since January last year, assisting the establishment of the Border Service of East Timor (BSET). The fourth deployment of three officers went to Dili in May and were due home at the end of August, marking the end of the New Zealand Customs full-time presence in East Timor.

But Jim Anderton says a decision to extend the presence in Dili was taken following a recent visit there by the Comptroller of Customs Robin Dare.

"The expertise and training of the New Zealand Customs Service will provide stability and additional training at this critical time for the new nation.

“Two Customs officers currently posted there have agreed to extend their term until the end of the year. Mark Farrington from Tauranga and Trevor Wilson from Auckland will work with the BSET to help local people develop their skills. I want to extend my personal thanks to them and their families.

“All New Zealanders can be proud of the work of our New Zealand Customs Service staff in East Timor. They have done a tremendous job and earned the respect of both the East Timorese and other international agencies,” Jim Anderton said.

New Zealand’s Official Development Assistance programme (ODA) has contributed to the costs of the deployments. In total 17 Customs officers have been on deployment there.

Jim Anderton's Chief of Staff, Andrew Ladley, is returning to East Timor on 25 August as a member of the NZ Government observer delegation for the elections. He assisted UNTAET in setting up the Border Service in January 2000, and he will meet with the NZ Customs officers in Dili as part of his trip.

Ends

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