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Progress in Timor-Leste But Foreign Help Crucial

Timor-Leste Making Progress But Foreign Help Still Crucial, Annan Reports

Although Timor-Leste has made progress in establishing state institutions, international assistance will be crucial for the country's long-term security and stability beyond the expiration in May of the current United Nations mission's mandate, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report recommending that a scaled-down operation be maintained for another year.

The Timorese authorities will continue to require assistance for border management and control, the development of a professional police service and of critical institutions, and the observance of democratic governance and human rights, Mr. Annan writes in his report to the Security Council on the UN Mission of Support for East Timor (UNMISET).

"The achievements that the people of Timor-Leste have made in building their own country in the short period since 1999 are truly remarkable. Nevertheless, the need to continue to support Timorese institution-building efforts remains critical, so as to protect the gains made until now," he says.

"A premature termination of the tasks described above may jeopardize those very achievements as well as the significant investment that the international community has made in Timor-Leste since 1999."

The reconfigured mission would run until 20 May 2006 and include 35 military liaison officers, down from 42, and 40 police trainers, down from the current 157. The number of civilian advisers would also be reduced, to 45 from 58, while the mission would have 10 human rights officers, down from the current 14.

The Secretary-General notes that the 12-month time period could be shortened if, within that time frame, bilateral and multilateral arrangements are identified to assume the critical responsibilities currently performed by UNMISET. At the same time, the number of personnel in the downsized mission could be further reduced when persons provided under those arrangements become available to take over those tasks.

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