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NZ will continue to help re-build East Timor


Mark Burton--New Zealand will continue to help re-build East Timor

New Zealand will continue its military support to East Timor with up to 26 NZDF personnel, to provide specialised support after New Zealand's battalion is withdrawn in November. The group will be made up of staff officers, United Nations Military Observers (UNMOs), and trainers to the East Timor Defence Force (now renamed Falintil-Force for the Defence of Timor Leste, or F-FDTL).

Minister of Defence Mark Burton has announced the decision, which was recently approved by Cabinet.

"I'm pleased that New Zealand is able to offer a continuing level of support to the Pacific's newest nation. East Timor faces a myriad of economic and social challenges in recovering from years of conflict, including infrastructure development, matters of law and order, and military training. The contributions made by the remaining NZDF personnel will be of real assistance in addressing some of these issues," said Mark Burton.

Cabinet approval has been given for up to 26 personnel, skilled in a variety of areas. The team will include Staff Officers, Communications and Driving Instructors and UNMOs, as well as staff from the Office of Defence Force Development (ODFD), the Small Arms Training Team (SATT), and the Dili National Support Element.

Mark Burton stressed the value of keeping skilled personnel deployed in East Timor, even after the withdrawal of the NZDF battalion.

"This specialist contingent represents a significant contribution in its own right. The staff officers have a tangible input into the planning and implementation of ongoing UN military operations in East Timor. The UNMOs have an important role in developing relationships between the East Timorese political leadership, the local community, F-FDTL and the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). In addition, military support to the F-FDTL will help ensure that the local defence force is trained to a high professional standard and ready to operate independently when the UN withdraws.

"New Zealand's goal is to assist East Timor in achieving stability and good governance, and our ongoing NZDF contribution is a key factor in reaching that goal."

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