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NZ upgrades East Timor post to embassy

NZ upgrades East Timor post to embassy

New Zealand's Consulate General in East Timor is to be upgraded to full embassy status, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

“New Zealand established an interim one-person post in Dili nearly four years ago. As a sign of our on-going commitment to East Timor, we have now decided to establish a full, permanent diplomatic presence,” Mr Goff said.

“Upgrading the post to a full embassy will involve appointing an additional staff member and improving the current office accommodation.

“New Zealand has a close relationship with East Timor, and upgrading the post allows us to further develop that relationship.

"We played an important part in assisting the independence process under the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and have continued to be closely involved in helping East Timor maintain security and stability.

"One of the post's key current roles is managing New Zealand's Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme, and ensuring our work is coordinated with other international donors.

“East Timor is one of the poorest countries in the world. It ranks 158 out of 185 countries on the UN's Human Development Index, equal with Rwanda and 20 places below Laos, the next poorest nation in the South East Asia/Pacific region.

"Our ODA allocation for this financial year is $3.05 million, with the focus on education, community development and building capacity in government institutions. East Timor has also asked donors to help underwrite its Budget until oil and gas revenues come on stream, and New Zealand will an additional $1 million this year in Budget support."

Earlier this week, Mr Goff met the United Nations Secretary General’s new Special Representative in East Timor, Dr Sukehiro Hasegawa.

"New Zealand strongly supports the UN's decision to extend the mandate of its Mission in Support of East Timor (UNMISET). My meeting with Dr Hasegawa was a good opportunity to review the mission's progress and to discuss what remains to be done.

"New Zealand is providing a staff officer and two military liaison officers for the duration of the extended mission, and up to seven military personnel to support the East Timor Defence Force until the end of the year.

"We also support the continuing work of the UN's Serious Crimes Unit, and the proposal to establish an independent Commission of Experts to address justice issues relating to human rights abuses in East Timor in 1999.

"The results of trials held in Indonesia last year failed to deliver justice to the people of East Timor.

"Bringing to account those who committed serious human rights violations during the move towards independence will help the reconciliation process between East Timor and Indonesia.

"New Zealand believes that establishing a Commission of Experts would be an important first step in resolving outstanding issues," Mr Goff.

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