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Bradford Welcomes Indonesian decision

Defence Minister Max Bradford today welcomed Indonesia’s decision to accept assistance from a UN-mandated peacekeeping force in East Timor.

“While New Zealand awaits a Security Council Resolution, and a possible time-line to send peacekeepers to East Timor, preparation continues.

“We are working closely with Australia, but the nature of any New Zealand contribution will be determined by what the UN requires,” Mr Bradford said.

Mr Bradford confirmed the United States had offered New Zealand logistical support for any New Zealand peacekeeping force and that a six-person Defence Force team had been despatched to Brisbane last night to work with Australian Defence Force planners.

A New Zealand contingent of 350-plus personnel, including Iroquois helicopters, medical and logistical support goes on 14-day standby from tomorrow to go to East Timor, if asked.

Senior defence staff were investigating options of making New Zealand forces available earlier than this, Mr Bradford said.

A RNZAF C130 Hercules aircraft sent to Darwin to assist with the evacuation of UN staff from Dili had flown to the East Timor capital yesterday to airlift UN staff back to Australia.

A second Hercules remained on standby in New Zealand. HMNZS Te Kaha remained on station off Darwin and would soon be joined by the Navy’s tanker HMNZS Endeavour, Mr Bradford said.

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