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DATE=10/26/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=AUSTRALIA / EAST TIMOR (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-255479 BYLINE=GREG JENNETT DATELINE=CANBERRA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Australia has welcomed the United Nations Security Council's decision on the formal establishment of a transitional authority in East Timor. Greg Jennett reports from Canberra, Australia will take a back-seat role in the new administration, but has offered to lead the peacekeeping force. TEXT: Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the United Nations has produced a strong mandate for the transitional administration and its 11- thousand troops, police and military observers. /// DOWNER ACT /// We've been working very closely with the British and other Security Council Members in the formulation of the resolution. This, of course, is an historic moment because we're now seeing the status of East Timor move from being a province of Indonesia to being administered by the United Nations, probably for around two or three years, and finally for East Timor to move to full independence. /// END ACT /// Mr. Downer has supported the appointment of Brazilian diplomat, Sergio Viera de Mello, to lead the U-N mission. Australia's five-thousand troops currently in East Timor as part of the international peacekeeping presence will be wound down to between 15-hundred and two-thousand by January. This will give financial relief to the Australian government, which has been grappling with the budgetary implications of the commitment. But the question of who will lead the peacekeeping force remains the subject of delicate negotiation. Mr. Downer acknowledges the sensitivities of the Association of Southeast Asian countries [ASEAN], which would prefer to see one of their own command the peacekeepers. He says Australia has offered to lead the force, but would not stand in the way of a Malaysian commander if that is the decision made by the U-N Secretary General. /// 2ND DOWNER ACT /// I think if the Secretary -General asked Australia to lead the peacekeeping operation, if that were to happen we would agree to do it. We are not falling over ourselves to do it. I think there would be many in ASEAN who wouldn't be surprised, and I think those who like the people such as the Indonesians and the Malaysians, need to remember that the overall leader of the transitional authority is a Brazilian. He is not an Australian. /// END ACT /// The Australian government is also turning its attention to rebuilding relations with Indonesia, and it has welcomed the new cabinet appointments made in Jakarta. (Signed) NEB/GJ/GC/WTW 26-Oct-1999 06:55 AM EDT (26-Oct-1999 1055 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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