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Defence Select Committee In East Timor

Media Release

August 31, 2000

DEFENCE SELECT COMMITTEE IN EAST TIMOR

Graham Kelly, MP, chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and six of his Parliamentary colleagues spent today in Suai visiting New Zealand Defence Force personnel serving with the United Nations Transitionary Autyhority in East Timor (UNTAET).

"When I visited East Timor in February this year Iearned a great deal about the peace support mission and wanted to see how it was progressing eight months later," said Mr Kelly.

"More importantly, I wanted my colleagues on this committee to see for themselves what this is all about.

"Our visit is about education. We need to be able to inform our colleagues and the NZ public about New Zealand's contribution to East Timor and first hand experience is extremely valuable in this context.

"We will also be able to contribute, from an informed basis, to discussions on East Timor and equipment issues for our forces.

"It was a multi-party decision to send NZ forces to East Timor but the lessons learned from the experiences were key factors in the Government's recently announced defence funding decisions.

"I am as impressed on this visit as I was on my earlier visit with the quality and professionalism of our people serving with the United Nations. They are magnificent ambassadors for New Zealand and all are doing a great job.

"We will write a report for Parliament on our return. Although we are here for only two days, the time spent with UN, NGO, NZ Corrections, NZ Customs and NZ Defence Force people will be of immense value to us.

"We will be better able now to do our part in ensuring continuing support from New Zealand for our people who are helping East Timor on its path to self reliance," concluded Mr Kelly.

Mr Kelly and his party, accompanied by Air Marshal Carey Adamson, Chief of Defence Force, arrived in Dili yesterday morning, August 30, and leave East Timor on Friday, September 1.

ENDS

Contact Mr Graham Kelly, MP, on NZ Mobile (021) 701319; or
Captain Denise MacKay, NZFOREM PRO Suai, Ph: 0061 407186519

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