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Minister for Defence meets with East Timor Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao.



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THE HON JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Monday, 25 August 2008 105/2008

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE MEETS WITH EAST TIMOR PRIME MINISTER, XANANA GUSMAO

The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, today met with the Prime Minister of East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, to discuss defence and security cooperation.

Matters discussed included the progress of the Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) and the finalisation of a Memorandum of Understanding for Defence Cooperation with East Timor.

During today’s meeting, both Prime Minister Gusmao - who also serves as East Timor’s Defence Minister - and Mr Fitzgibbon reconfirmed their enduring commitment to the development of East Timor’s Defence Force.

Mr Fitzgibbon noted construction has commenced on a $5.7 million Specialist Training Wing for the East Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) at Metinaro, which will provide training for the F-FDTL in specialist areas such as engineering, logistics, communications and medical skills.

Construction will be completed in December 2008, and instruction will formally begin with the posting of five ADF personnel to the centre in January 2009.

The Specialist Training Wing is funded by the DCP in East Timor. The DCP was established in 2001, with the focus on aiding the East Timorese in establishing a professional, sustainable and affordable Defence Force appropriate to East Timor’s needs.

“The Specialist Training Wing will allow the East Timorese Defence Force to continue to develop as a national institution, that secures and builds a better future for this vibrant democracy on Australia’s doorstep,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

The meeting also afforded Prime Minister Gusmao and Mr Fitzgibbon the opportunity to discuss the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Defence Cooperation with East Timor, which will be finalised later this year.

The MOU will record the understandings reached between the Australian Department of Defence and the East Timor Secretariat of Defence concerning the enhancement of cooperation between them, and the mutual benefit to be derived from conducting cooperative defence activities between Australia and East Timor.

Prime Minister Gusmao will also visit HMAS Waterhen in Sydney tomorrow to get an overview of the functions and capability of a modern Naval base. Australia is committed to supporting East Timor enhance its maritime security capability through the Defence Cooperation Programme.

Media contacts: Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664