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Dili airport, Friday, 29 October, 1999, transcript of doorstop interview



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HON. JOHN MOORE, MP

Minister for Defence, Member for Ryan

 

29, October, 1999

Transcript

Doorstop: Dili airport

 

MOORE:

 

I’d just like to express the great pleasure I have in being here today. I came to meet the forces here, the Coalition forces, and to see what progress has been made.

 

I have to say I’m surprised by the degree of devastation there is within the province. The bright side is, of course, the tremendous professionalism of the Coalition forces. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been impressed by the relationship they’ve built up with the local population, and the way in which they’ve been able to bring about peace and security within the area.

 

To me, they’ve met the United Nations mandate, in every aspect. I’ll be very pleased, next week, to go to the United Nations and speak to officials there about progress that has been made.

 

To all the forces that have contributed, the governments that have contributed here in the United Nations’ operation, could I thank them. I think they all have a right to feel equally as proud, as I do of the AFD (Australian Defence Force).

 

In coming time, there will be a change from Phase II to Phase III, which was announced as a consequence of the Security Council resolution, earlier in the week. That will bring about some changes to the personnel here and to the management. I’m quite sure that all the forces that are here look forward to a civil administration being established and the ultimate development, after that, of the new nation (of East Timor).

 

I’m only too pleased to report back, not only to my government — the Government of Australia and the Prime Minister — but to the United Nations on what I perceive to be a great success in this operation.

 

QUESTION:

 

From the air, that devastation, what were the thoughts that went through your mind when you saw that?

 

MOORE:

 

Well, I think you need to go outside Dili to see the full extent of it — such as where we’ve just been — to see how complete it is. Here, when you fly over Dili, you can see it, but when you fly over the outside areas, it’s quite vicious.

 

QUESTION:

 

What did you discuss with Mr Gusmao this morning?

 

MOORE:

 

We, I think, had a very worthwhile conversation. The international community very much looks to Mr Gusmao to provide the leadership here, and ultimately they have to come to some compromise and resolution of the civil problems, and form a domestic government. He will play a very important role in that, and we expressed to Mr Gusmao our good wishes. We, of course, will do whatever we can to assist, but this will be a United Nations’ operation, not an Australian operation.

 

Also, it’s important that both Australia and the new nation of East Timor get on with Indonesia.

 

QUESTION:

 

Isn’t it about time the Indonesian military pulled out?

 

MOORE:

 

That’s a matter for the Indonesian Government but they have relatively few numbers here as far as I can see.

 

QUESTION:

 

You still need an Indonesian visa to come here and they’ve still got troops here. Strike you as odd?

 

MOORE:

 

Well, I didn’t need one.

 

QUESTION:

 

Everyone else did.

 

MOORE:

 

Things might change.

 

QUESTION:

 

Did you get an update into investigations by INTERFET into human rights violations and are there...

 

MOORE:

 

Well, I’ve been made aware of what they’ve been doing, but that’s a matter for the United Nations and they have their own organisation doing that.

 

QUESTION:

 

Do you have a deadline for when the Australian troops should leave?

 

MOORE:

 

There’s no deadline, as such. The United Nations’ recent resolution spoke of January the fifteenth as a date to be targeted. I wouldn’t think that that’s necessarily the final date. International forces, after getting them together, nominating a date, that’s a pretty big call, I would say. I would think it’s probably some time behind that (the 15th January).

 

QUESTION:

 

(Inaudible)

 

MOORE:

 

No, the question of the future leadership of Phase III is a matter for the United Nations. The Secretary General has to nominate a leader. For Phase II, General Cosgrove — he was the nominee of the Australian Government — but he was officially approved by the Secretary General.

 

QUESTION:

 

(Inaudible)

 

MOORE:

 

I don’t remember the Government ever saying that. Certainly, I’m not aware of that.

 

QUESTION:

 

(Inaudible)

 

MOORE:

 

No, it’s a question for the United Nations. If we are asked to do, that’s one thing. But we’re not out there saying “me”. We’re out there, we’re doing the job, and I couldn’t say more enthusiastically what a damned good job (General) Peter Cosgrove is doing.

 

 

 

al  1999-11-02  09:08