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NZ Military Observers For East Timor

16 June 1999

MEDIA STATEMENT For Immediate Release

NZ MILITARY OBSERVERS FOR EAST TIMOR

Five New Zealand Defence Force personnel will join the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) as Military Liaison Officers, Foreign Minister Don McKinnon and Minister of Defence, Max Bradford, announced today. UNAMET is responsible for organising a ballot on the future of East Timor.

The five officers will be led by Colonel Neville Reilly. Colonel Reilly will fill the Chief of Staff/Deputy Commander appointment in the Military Liaison Officer element of UNAMET.

"The officers have commenced pre-deployment training and briefings. Colonel Reilly and two of the officers will leave for East Timor on Friday 18 June, with the other two leaving later next week for their ten week deployment," said Mr Bradford.

"Their role will be similar to that of the civilian police being deployed with UNAMET. They will maintain contact with counterparts in the Indonesian Armed forces to underpin the security of both the ballot on 8 August and of UN personnel supporting the ballot process," Mr Bradford said.

UNAMET was established by a UN Security Council resolution on 11 June following the agreement on 5 May by Indonesia and Portugal to hold what will be an historic ballot of the East Timorese people about their future.

"Although the Government of Indonesia has the principal responsibility for ensuring security on the ground in East Timor, it has promised to work closely with UNAMET to achieve this. New Zealand welcomes Indonesia's agreement to civilian police and military liaison officers from outside countries to assist with the ballot," Mr McKinnon said

"There is widespread international interest in developments in East Timor, and this will intensify in the next few months. The eyes of the world will be directed towards Indonesia's fulfilment of its commitment to maintain peace and security, and to ensure that the consultation is carried out in a free and fair way, without violence or intimidation.

"The New Zealand Government stands ready to do its part in helping the United Nations carry out the tasks entrusted to it. In addition to police and military personnel, New Zealand is contributing electoral experts to UNAMET, and we have already made a contribution to the United Nations Trust Fund for East Timor

"That the UN has asked New Zealand to fill the UNAMET Chief of Staff/Deputy Commander position in Dili is a compliment to our Defence Force and the capability they have developed during their contributions to many UN and other peace support operations throughout the world," concluded Mr McKinnon.

ENDS


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