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Reduced UN force in Timor-Leste recommended for another year

3 May 2004 United Nations peacekeepers have played a crucial role in the extraordinary political progress made by newly independent, post-conflict Timor-Leste, and a reduced force of nearly 700 troops should remain for another year to allow the country to become self-sufficient, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report to the Security Council.

Hailing the success achieved by the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), established in May 2002, Mr. Annan says, "Where so much has been achieved so quickly, there is good reason to believe that a further joint effort by the leadership of Timor-Leste and the international community will enable the Timorese people to reach the objective of a truly self-sufficient state that they have pursued with such determination."

He recommends that UNMISET provide for the island nation 58 civilian experts to public administration and the judiciary, especially for serious crimes. The Mission should also retain 310 formed military and 157 civilian police advisers and deploy an international response unit of 125 gendarmes, as well as 42 military liaison officers.

Future political development and social progress are linked to economic prospects, Mr. Annan says.

"Progress towards agreement between Australia and Timor-Leste for development of the mineral resources in the Timor Sea, in a mutually beneficial manner, through full commitment of the leadership of the countries involved, would make an essential contribution in this regard," he says.

At the same time, the vision of cooperation shown by the political leadership of Timor-Leste and Indonesia, the country from which it gained independence, must be evidenced by completing land border demarcation, resolving the refugee problem and allowing the requirements of people on either side of the border to be met in a peaceful and orderly manner, he says.

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