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DATE=10/9/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=TIMOR WARNING / L-O NUMBER=2-254834 BYLINE=NINO TESORIERO DATELINE=SYDNEY CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Australian Prime Minister John Howard has renewed warnings about the potential dangers of the peacekeeping mission in East Timor. As Nino Tesoriero reports from Sydney, the prime minister's comments follow the shooting of two Australian soldiers during a militia ambush, earlier this week. TEXT: Mr. Howard has again warned Australians the situation for the multinational peace keeping troops in East Timor could worsen. Speaking at a political conference in Queensland Saturday, Mr. Howard said tensions are likely to increase. To use his words, the prime minister says there is a chance the mission could "turn nasty." Stressing his desire for smooth relations with Indonesia, Mr. Howard said Australia's role in East Timor was not as an aggressor, but as part of a peacekeeping mission. Mr. Howard reviewed Australia's willingness to be a good friend of Indonesia over the years, making note of Australia's assistance during times such as the recent Asian economic crisis. //HOWARD ACTUALITY// We didn't come to this issue out of a deep-seated hostility to Indonesia. We are there not as an act of aggression against the Indonesian state. We are there as an act of goodwill and peace enforcement to assist the implementation of the clearly expressed will of the people of East Timor. That is what this is all about. // END ACTUALITY // Political divisions have widened in Australia over the government's handling of the East Timor crisis, following stinging attacks on Mr. Howard's approach by the former Prime Minister, Paul Keating this week. Mr. Howard has rejected the criticism, arguing that -- since Indonesia announced the ballot for East Timor - - there was no way Australia could have ignored the needs of the Timorese (signed). Neb / nt / wd 09-Oct-1999 05:55 AM EDT (09-Oct-1999 0955 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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