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Timor Making Progress Towards Self-Sufficiency

Timor-Leste Making Progress Towards Self-Sufficiency And Drawing Borders - Un Report

Timor-Leste has made significant progress towards self-sufficiency in terms of administration and security, and has advanced in border delimitation talks, but the world's newest country has not been able to bring several people accused of serious anti-independence crimes to justice, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report.

In his brief to the Security Council on the work of the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), Mr. Annan says future progress will depend on joint efforts by Timor-Leste, UNMISET and the international community, with financial help and training still needed. The UN mission's mandate will end next May.

The report also finds "significant achievements in prosecuting perpetrators of serious crimes committed in 1999" when the independence referendum was held. But Mr. Annan points out that "many of the indicted persons are still outside Timor-Leste and have not been brought to justice."

He calls on Member States to make sure that the 279 people who were indicted over the 1999 anti-independence violence but who are living outside East Timor do not enjoy impunity.

The unemployment rate in the nation which shares Timor Island with Indonesia is high, with only limited employment opportunities in both the private and public sectors, he notes. While tax payments generated by the exploitation of natural resources has brought in higher-than-expected national income, the prospects for oil and gas revenues in the next two years remain uncertain.

East Timor, Australia and Indonesia have been negotiating revenue sharing from maritime oil and gas fields near Timor Island. According to the UN Law of the Sea office, Australia and East Timor have deposited a memorandum of understanding and two agreements over these fields, but negotiations continue.

In May Australian Ambassador John Dauth told the Security Council, "In this context, I want to remind the Council that we have already negotiated valid and generous interim arrangements."

On another border discussion, Mr. Annan welcomes the "high-level cooperation" achieved in delimiting a border between Indonesia and East Timor on the island, but adds that "progress has not been as rapid or as conclusive as hoped."

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