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Goff to visit East Timor

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence


06 June 2006
Media statement

Goff to visit East Timor


Defence Minister Phil Goff and Defence Secretary Graham Fortune will make a brief visit to East Timor tomorrow to meet with New Zealand Defence Force personnel working on the ground in Dili. He will also meet East Timorese Defence Minister Jose Ramos Horta and other key leaders to discuss problems which have led to the crisis, and the role that New Zealand, Australia and other defence forces can play in restoring order.

"East Timor has been a key topic of conversation at strategic defence talks organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies in Singapore last weekend which I attended. It has also been firmly on the agenda of the Five Power Defence Arrangement discussions I have had in Singapore and Malaysia with the defence ministers of Australia The United Kingdom, Singapore, and Malaysia.

"Defence Force personnel have clearly had a key role to play in separating conflicting factions of the police and military forces in East Timor.

"My visit is intended to give me a first hand impression of the tasks our defence force is undertaking, and what more needs to be done to restore security and stability in East Timor. Obviously this will involve not only Defence Force personnel of the countries currently involved but also a wider international role in policing. The United Nations and contributing countries will need to ensure that there are functioning institutions for policing, justice and corrections to deal with ongoing problems caused by youth gangs and other opportunistic criminal elements.

"Dealing with other underlying causes including poverty and unemployment will be a longer term but critical task requiring a major international effort.

"It is also essential for the East Timorese leadership itself to ensure that political differences are handled constitutionally, and do not contribute to the spread of disorder and violence", Mr Goff said.


ENDS

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