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East Timor: signature of tripartite agreement.



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Media Release

 

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

ALEXANDER DOWNER

 

East Timor - Signature of Tripartite Agreement

6 May 1999

FA44

 

The signature in New York on 5 May of the agreement between Indonesia and Portugal represents an important landmark on the path towards a peaceful and orderly resolution of the East Timor issue. I congratulate the Foreign Ministers of both nations, and I particularly applaud the efforts of the Secretary General, and his personal representative Ambassador Marker, for the vital roles they have played in brokering this agreement.

 

But the signature of the agreement also represents the start of the crucial next phase of what will be a difficult process. As the UN moves towards the organisation of a ballot on 8 August, genuine commitment by all sides remains crucial to its success. In particular, all efforts must be made to create an environment in which the East Timorese can decide their future free of violence and intimidation. The Indonesian Government and Armed Forces remain responsible for law and order and for protecting the people of East Timor.

 

Reconciliation amongst the East Timorese remains crucial in bringing about a peaceful and lasting resolution of the conflict. In this respect, the early release of Xanana Gusmao, in the light of his key role in the reconciliation process, would represent an important step in this direction.

 

I strongly support the establishment of a civilian UN presence in East Timor at the earliest opportunity, and would urge all parties to cooperate fully with the UN in organising the ballot. For its part, the Australian Government remains committed to ensuring the success of the UN-organised consultations. The Prime Minister has already announced that Australia will provide A$20 million for this, including both a contribution to the UN Trust Fund and “in-kind” support to the UN. Australia made a ASIO million cash contribution to the UN Trust Fund earlier this week to expedite preparations for UN deployment. As I have also made clear, Australia will also respond quickly to what we now anticipate will be UN requests for assistance with personnel, including civilian police advisers.

 

The Agreement in New York is a good start. Now is the time for action. Australia is well prepared to take such action.

 

 

Media contacts: Ministerial, Innes Willox (02) 6277 7500 Departmental, Tony Melville, (02) 6261 1555

 

 

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