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NZ Welcomes Decision To Admit Peacekeeper

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday 13 September 1999

NEW ZEALAND WELCOMES DECISION TO ADMIT PEACEKEEPERS

All New Zealanders who have been appalled by the suffering of the East Timorese people will welcome Indonesia's decision to allow United Nations peacekeeping forces into Timor, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

"This is a responsible step for the Indonesian Government to take. It also reflects the strength of feeling of international leaders gathering in Auckland for APEC.

"The leaders at APEC have put extraordinary effort into convincing Indonesia to restore order in East Timor, Mrs Shipley said.

"Now the focus must be on putting together a United Nations peacekeeping force as rapidly as possible, while supporting the Indonesian Government to show leadership over the dreadful human tragedy that has occurred in East Timor.

"Immediately, New Zealand and other countries await the message that Indonesia Foreign Minister Ali Alatas is taking to the United Nations in New York. We are looking for a Security Council Resolution as soon as possible.

"It is vital that Indonesia's decision is followed up promptly so that peacekeepers and humanitarian aid can bring the quickest possible response to this tragedy.

"New Zealand's contingency plans for taking part in a UN peacekeeping force have been in place for some time and we are working to start moving them into the field as soon as possible.

"It appears that Indonesia's decision takes us toward meeting the conditions New Zealand has required all along. We have an Indonesia Invitation and broad-based support from the international community. Now we await the UN mandate.

"New Zealand has been discussing a contribution of about 350 personnel and we will be working out the details in the coming hours and days.

"But this will be a risky operation and I am not prepared to put New Zealanders' lives at risk without giving all voices in Parliament the opportunity to express their views on our involvement in a peacekeeping force.

"I plan, therefore, to call Parliament next week to allow all parties to debate the situation.

"I know, though, that all New Zealanders who have seen this terrible humanitarian tragedy unfold will want us to play our part.

"New Zealanders have shown repeatedly in the past that they are prepared to take a stand for what is right. This is the time for New Zealanders to show that same determination once again," Mrs Shipley said.

ENDS

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