----- Original Message -----
From: Moore, John (MP)
To: 'ture@linknet.com.au'
Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 1999 12:27 PM
Subject: East Timor

Dear Mr Sjolander
Thank you for your email to the Minister for Defence, the Hon John Moore MP,
regarding East Timor.  As the Minister is overseas, I am responding on his

The Government has worked very hard in recent months with the United Nations
and many other countries to help stabilise the situation in East Timor.
Australia supported the decision by President Habibie to offer the East
Timorese people a free ballot on their future under an agreement with the
United Nations and Portugal.  The result of the vote, held on 30 August, was
an unambiguous 78.5 per cent vote for independence.  You would be well aware
of the resulting violence, which was widely condemned by the international
community, the Australian Government, and most Australians. 

The Australian Government worked assiduously with the United Nations to
allow the deployment of a multinational peacekeeping force to Timor.  We
were pleased with the decision by the Indonesian Government to accept this
force, and with the wide range of nations (including Brazil, Canada, France,
Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines,
Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United
States) that have made firm commitments to it.

Following the decision by the Indonesian Government to allow peacekeepers
into East Timor, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted
resolution 1264, establishing INTERFET (International Force East Timor).
The main tasks of INTERFET are to restore peace and security in East Timor,
protect and support UNAMET (United Nations Assistance Mission East Timor),
and to facilitate humanitarian assistance operations.  All troops deployed
to East Timor have been legally authorised to take whatever action necessary
to implement their mandate.  The success of INTERFET to date is a credit to
the discipline and professionalism of the soldiers and support personnel

Now that the Indonesian Parliament has ratified the results of the August 30
ballot and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI - formerly ABRI) has completed
its withdrawal from East Timor, we have begun the process of transferring
from the current peace enforcement mandate being implemented by INTERFET, to
UNTAET, the UN Transitional Administration for East Timor, which will be
supported by a UN peacekeeping operation.  Australia is providing
significant assistance to the UN - both in military terms and in
humanitarian aid -as UNTAET takes over.  The Government is pleased this is
occurring, because our goal has been to get the UN process back on course so
that the will of the Timorese people can be given effect.  The commendable
work being done by INTERFET is moving us steadily towards this goal. 

Australia's humanitarian commitment to East Timor is already considerable.
On 12 October, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Alexander Downer
MP, announced a A$6million aid package to assist East Timorese Internally
Displaced Persons, bringing the total Australian aid commitment to the
relief effort to A$13.7million.  Humanitarian road convoys are distributing
food and emergency supplies to areas outside Dili.

These events have placed some strains on our relationship with Indonesia.
This has been regrettable, but unavoidable.  As the Prime Minister has said,
the Australian Government could choose between maintaining the relationship
at all costs, or to do what we felt was right.  We chose to do the latter.
With the situation in East Timor improving, we are now working towards
resuming good relations with one of our most important neighbours.  The
recent democratic elections are a positive development.  The Government has
welcomed the election of President Wahid and looks forward to working with
him to improve the relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

I am also aware of the concerns expressed regarding our defence relationship
with Indonesia.  On 10 September the Government announced that all aspects
of Australia's defence relationship with Indonesia were under review, and
that all current and planned military exercises and military skills training
with the Indonesian Armed Forces would be suspended until further notice.
This review will report in due course, and is likely to recommend a shift in
emphasis to links such as staff college courses, maritime surveillance and
disaster relief exercises.

The Government has responded to the crisis in East Timor with leadership and
a range of practical and balanced proposals which pursue both Australia's
national interests and the concerns of the people of East Timor. 

Thank you for your interest in this matter and for taking the time to share
your concerns with the Minister.

Yours sincerely

Aldo Borgu
Senior Adviser