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East Timor Must be priority on Apec agenda

Jim Anderton MP Fri Sep 3 1999

Jim Anderton
MP Tell the Indonesians, no 'business as usual' at APEC while violence escalates in East Timor, Alliance leader Jim Anderton challenged Mrs Shipley today.

He says, the chaos in East Timor must be a key issue on the APEC agenda, and any attempt by Foreign Affairs Minister Don McKinnon to push it to 'the margins of APEC' is totally inadequate.

'If the situation worsens before or during APEC, the Indonesian government must take responsibility, and the New Zealand government, as the APEC host is morally obliged to make sure that it does,' said Jim Anderton.

'It is embarrassing that Mrs Shipley has not taken a leadership role to date, but instead waited for the Canadian APEC delegation to raise the issue of East Timor. I call on Mrs Shipley to prioritise the following on the APEC agenda:

1. The APEC forum cannot just be reserved for trade when parts of the Asia Pacific region are in anarchy.

At Kuala Lumpur last year APEC leaders recognised the need to deal with the immediate risks caused by the Asian financial crisis. They said the crisis had to be dealt with because it had 'resulted in far reaching social costs....setting back decades of progress achieved in eliminating poverty....as well as access to basic health and infrastructure facilities.'

Today we are faced with a crisis in East Timor which will effect the social and economic stability of the region. It must therefore be given a central place on the APEC agenda.

2. Mrs Shipley must instruct our ambassador at the United Nations to contact the Secretary General Kofi Annan immediately.

3. She must lead the call of APEC countries to request that China, who has a record of voting against the use of peacekeeping forces at the United Nations, abstain from voting on the motion to send troops to East Timor.

'If civil strife and mayhem is not a threat to the security and economies of the regions I don't know what is,' said Jim Anderton.

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