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ADF contribution to peacekeeping in East Timor

Monday, 20 May 2002 MIN 229/02

MEDIA RELEASE

Australian Defence Force contribution to peacekeeping in East Timor

The Australian Defence Force should be proud of their contribution to the peacekeeping force that has enabled East Timor to celebrate its independence today, according to Defence Minister Robert Hill. There are currently about 5000 people involved in the United Nations peacekeeping force in East Timor, about 1400 of whom are Australian. It has been one of Australia's most significant military undertakings.

Australia is taking a lead role in supporting the development of the East Timor Defence Force (ETDF). Australia is providing support to the ETDF through specialist infantry training, military and general equipment, the development of purpose-built training facilities and communications infrastructure and Australian Defence Force advisory and training staff.

A substantial ADF contribution will continue to be deployed in the post-independence mission - the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). It is expected to last two years. Senator Hill, who is in Dili for the celebrations, said the Australian Defence Force was proud to be involved in East Timor's achievements.

"Independence marks the start of a long and challenging path of nation-building for the East Timorese people," Senator Hill said.

"The task will not be an easy one. Australian Defence personnel have been instrumental in maintaining peace and security to provide a stable environment. They have done a fantastic job and it is important to recognise their efforts and the bond they have developed with the East Timorese people."

"Beyond UN military involvement, Australia will continue to provide support to East Timor's defence force and advice and assistance through our Defence cooperation program to help our newest neighbour achieve its aspirations."

ENDS

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