EAST TIMOR JOINS INTERNATIONAL PEOPLE SMUGGLING MEETING
East Timor pledged today to assist in international efforts to combat illegal immigration and people smuggling at a conference in Denpasar, Indonesia, attended by nearly 40 Asian, Middle Eastern and Pacific countries.
Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs José Ramos-Horta said in a statement at the two-day conference that East Timor was eager to enter into bilateral and multilateral arrangements to stop the activities of human traffickers after the territory achieves independence on 20 May.
In the meantime, Ramos-Horta said that East Timor was willing to engage in information sharing with other nations to assist in regional efforts to halt the illegal traffic of immigrants.
Delegates from East Timor's Second Transitional Government described the conference as a productive effort to forge a common position on people smuggling among the participating nations. East Timor took part in a technical session today that aimed to establish an ad-hoc working group that could build on the achievements of the conference.
In this context, on Tuesday, at the first-ever tripartite meeting between East Timor, Australia and Indonesia, East Timor's delegation proposed that the police services of the three countries meet at a technical level very soon in Dili to discuss security issues. The proposal was welcomed by both Australia and Indonesia.
EAST TIMOR, INDONESIA TO BEGIN BORDER SURVEY 11 MARCH
Indonesia and East Timor have agreed to begin a 10-day joint survey to demarcate the countries' common land borders on 11 March, an official from East Timor's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today.
The joint survey will include the tactical coordination lines that divide East Timor and West Timor and surround East Timor's Oecussi enclave. The joint team will attempt to locate old border markers and study geological features, local social issues and technical issues during the survey.
Local communities on both sides will be consulted during the process. Security will be provided by members of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and the Indonesian Armed Forces.
Details of the survey emerged after a bilateral meeting Monday, 25 February, between Indonesia and UNTAET/East Timor.
A joint communiqué signed by UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello and Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Hasan Wirayuda announced that the joint
survey would begin in March and that agreement had been reached to start informal talks on maritime boundaries to prepare the groundwork for formal negotiations.
DUTCH INVESTIGATOR ARRIVES TO ASSIST ON THOENES CASE
A Dutch police investigator arrived in East Timor today to assist in an Indonesian investigation into the 1999 killing of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes.
The arriving investigator, Gerrit Thiry, participated in an earlier UN investigation on Thoenes, who was killed on 21 September 1999 shortly after he arrived in Dili to cover INTERFET's efforts to restore order after pro-Indonesia militia violently rejected the results of a UN-run ballot on the future of East Timor.
Witnesses allege that the Jakarta-based Financial Times correspondent was murdered by retreating Indonesian troops on their way to West Timor, Indonesia.
A team of Indonesian prosecutors arrived Monday, 25 February, to investigating the Thoenes case. The team continued today to interview witnesses and go over evidence already collected by investigators from UNTAET's Serious Crimes Unit.
DEFENCE FORCE RECEIVES TRAINING, EQUIPMENT DONATION
The East Timor Defence Force (ETDF) took several steps this month in its development as an effective national armed force with the help of training and equipment donations from Australia, Pakistan and Malaysia.
The Australian peacekeeping battalion donated today about 1,000 military-issue backpacks to the ETDF in a ceremony held at the force's training facility in Metinaro, about 15 kilometres east of Dili.
In a brief ceremony, Maj. Greg Hansen from the Australian Training Support Team presented a backpack to ETDF Deputy Commander Col. Lere Annan Timor. Packs were then delivered to 260 recently recruited ETDF troops who are undergoing basic training in Metinaro. The rest will be distributed to soldiers in the coming days.
Separately at Metinaro, nine ETDF communications officers took control of communication equipment that links ETDF bases in Metinaro, Hera, Dili and Lospalos after completing a two-day training programme assisted by the Pakistani UN peacekeepers' communication unit.
Earlier this month, a second ETDF captain travelled to Malaysia for several months of military training. Capt. Domingos Augusto began a Company Commander Course on 19 February, joining Capt. Domingos de Oliveira, who began an All Arms Tactics Course on 15 January.
Four more ETDF officers are expected to embark on similar Malaysian Government-funded courses in the future. The courses are part of a continuing effort by the country to assist the ETDF's development.
In related issue, two ETDF Lieutenants graduated from the Royal Military College in the Australian capital Canberra two weeks ago. They were the first East Timorese to graduate from the college. The two officers graduated along with 120 part-time Australian army reserves.