SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON SITUATION IN EAST TIMOR BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING

21 March 2000
SC/6826

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON SITUATION IN EAST TIMOR BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING

21 March 2000

Press ReleaseSC/6826

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON SITUATION IN EAST TIMOR BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR PEACEKEEPING

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The "social peace" of East Timor had been threatened by the prevailing economic and social conditions in that country, Hédi Annabi, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council in an open briefing this morning on the situation in East Timor.

That situation was reflected in the very large number of applicants that had responded to the recruitment efforts of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), he said. A number of efforts were under way to create employment opportunities, including 18 quick impact projects undertaken by UNTAET for the repair of local infrastructure in advance of the World Bank's much larger community empowerment project. The reconstruction process would take time, however. In view of the level of destruction in the country, and the exodus of a great number of skilled workers following the tragic events of last year, rehabilitation and reconstruction would be difficult and slow.

The handover from the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) to UNTAET's military component had been smooth, he went on. The United Nations force, however, had been tested by increased incursions of pro-autonomy militia members from West Timor. There had also been a number of cases in which weapons were found on refugees returning from West Timor, causing UNTAET to institute stricter controls. Concerning the refugee flow, more than 153,000 had returned, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had estimated the return of 50,000 more.

Following Mr. Annabi’s briefing, speakers this morning welcomed the positive developments in the area, such as the smooth transition from INTERFET to UNTAET, the visit of President Wahid of Indonesia to East Timor, the establishment of the East Timor postal service, and the approval of several regulations. They agreed, however, that there remained troublesome issues, such as unemployment and rising crime, a slow disbursement of funds, and the increasing incidents of violence by militias.

The representative of the United Kingdom said that things were moving steadily and inexorably in the right direction towards independence. Today's briefing and the news of recent weeks, however, had been a reminder of some serious problems, namely, the increasing criminality in East Timor. He hoped the deployment of the rapid reaction unit would help, as well as the establishment of a police group, which should help UNTAET bring the unofficial

Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6826 4114th Meeting (AM) 21 March 2000

security groups under its control. Of particular concern were the recent outbreaks of violence and the reported evidence of the involvement of Indonesian armed forces. It must be ensured that promises by the Indonesian Government not to support any residual complicity between the armed forces and militia activity in East Timor would be kept.

On a similar issue, the representative of France, noting the pledge by the Indonesian authorities to end militia and pro-integrationist activities, wondered whether they were in a position to implement those commitments in the field and strictly monitor the local activities of the militia hierarchy.

The representative of the Russian Federation also expressed concern at reports of a resurgence of the activities of the pro-integration militia, which had sought to impede the return of refugees. The speedy, effective resolution of the refugee problem would largely determine the successful handling of current tasks. The revival of the economy and the establishment of effective governance was also crucial. He urged the Council to “carefully and regularly” follow all developments.

Similarly, Council President Anwarul Karim Chowdhury (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of his country, warned that militia violence had to be controlled. Closing the camps in border areas was a good place to start. The deployment of civilian police had been a very positive sign, but the impediments to a more rapid deployment needed to be removed.

Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of the United States, Canada, Argentina, Netherlands, China, Malaysia, Jamaica, Namibia, and Mali.

The meeting began at 11:20 a.m. and adjourned at 1:03 p.m.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing on the situation in East Timor from the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi.

The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has overall responsibility for the administration of East Timor and is empowered to exercise all legislative and executive authority, including the administration of justice. The UNTAET was established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1272 (1999) of 25 October 1999.

Briefing by Assistant Secretary-General

HÉDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the briefing covered the period since Sergio Vieira de Mello’s briefing on 3 February. Important developments since then had included the signing on 21 February of an agreement between UNTAET and the World Bank concerning a large community empowerment project, and the formal handover of responsibility from the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) to the military component of UNTAET on 23 February. The economic and social conditions in East Timor had remained the primary concern. Very high unemployment and high prices continued, threatening “social peace”. The situation was reflected in the very large number of applicants that had responded to UNTAET’s recruitment efforts.

He highlighted a number of efforts under way to create employment opportunities, including 18 quick impact projects undertaken by UNTAET for the repair of local infrastructure in advance of the World Bank’s much larger community empowerment project. While that dealt essentially with the rehabilitation of infrastructure and support for income-generating activities, he said it had also provided for the strengthening of the capacity of sub- districts and villages, through elected representatives, to determine their priorities and manage the implementation of their projects. Additional projects were being undertaken by bilateral donors. At the end of February, UNTAET had made regular payments to more than 2,500 civil servants, a number that would grow quickly as a result of the recruitment of new personnel.

A fast-track programme in education had grown rapidly and now involved some 7,000 teachers, reaching some 130,000 children, he said. At present, cash contributions to the UNTAET Trust Fund had amounted to just over $23 million, of an estimated $43 million needed for the East Timorese administration in 2000. During the Indonesian President’s visit, it had been agreed that his Government would facilitate the rebuilding of public records and archives, the return of cultural artifacts, and the reopening of cross-border trade. The establishment of a land corridor linking the Oecussi enclave to the main part of East Timor had also been agreed. On 4 March, the Indonesian air carrier Merit had resumed commercial flights between Indonesia and East Timor. An Australian regional airline had also been operating flights between Dili and Darwin since January. The President had also confirmed the agreement for UNTAET to establish a liaison office in Capping, West Timor, which had opened today.

The mission had passed legislation on a number of important matters, which had been approved by the National Consultative Commission, he went on. Customs and immigration arrangements had been put in place and a border service had been established to administer those arrangements. A provisional tax regime had been set up, with taxes and duties levied on imports, exports and the domestic production of goods. Collection of import duties had begun yesterday, and regulations on licensing and supervision of banks, public procurement, and on the organization of the courts had been issued. With respect to law and order, the number of major incidents had declined. Law enforcement was still weak, and Timorese communities and groups had, in some cases, attempted to enforce law and order directly.

Continuing, he said that UNTAET’s civilian police force would number 987 by the end of the week, out of an authorized strength of 1,640. Yesterday, the first 50 Timorese had been recruited to the newly established Police Assistance Group. That was an interim measure, pending the development of an indigenous police force. The Group comprised former local police personnel who would assist the United Nations police, but would have no executive powers. As for the new East Timor police, the first group of recruits would begin their four- month training course on 27 March. The UNTAET had issued a regulation establishing a panel of Timorese and foreign judges to try war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nearly 300 murder cases, involving 627 victims, were currently under investigation. The mission was currently negotiating with the Indonesian Government on a cooperation agreement in such cases, including the exchange of evidence and access to witnesses.

The handover from INTERFET to UNTAET’s military component went smoothly, he said. However, within a week there were increased incursions of pro-autonomy militia members from West Timor. In one such incident, on 5 March, a villager was killed and another wounded. UNTAET troops found a group of five armed men in a house. One of them was captured and interrogated. Also, weapons had been found on refugees returning from West Timor. The UNTAET had instituted stricter controls.

He said that elements of the Indonesian armed forces continued to tolerate and support the militias in West Timor. Indonesian authorities, however, had assured UNTAET’s Force Commander and Political Director that stern action would be taken against militia activity. As of 20 March, 7,310 United Nations troops were deployed in East Timor. The remaining troops are scheduled to arrive by the end of this month, bringing the total strength to 8,600. In addition, UNTAET’s military component included 198 military observers.

Over 153,000 refugees had returned, principally from West Timor, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that approximately 50,000 more would wish to return, he continued. The total refugee population is currently estimated at approximately 100,000. Primary and secondary movements of returnees are managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). While there had been incidents of violence against returnees, for the most part their return and the re-integration had been generally smooth.

Persons who had supported autonomy had also been among those who returned, he said. Joanico Belo, a senior militia leader, had visited Baucau and Los Palos from 9 to 12 March. He had been well received and had held meetings with local leaders, who had assured him that refugees returning to those areas would be safe, while those accused of crimes would be dealt with in accordance with fair and transparent procedures.

Six former Timorese members of the Indonesian armed forces had visited Aileu last weekend to discuss the return of 59 former soldiers and their families. They received assurances that they were welcome, so long as they were returning as East Timorese willing to help in the reconstruction of the country, he said.

The UNHCR had asked Indonesia to adopt a comprehensive strategy and to allow the refugees to decide whether to return to East Timor or be resettled in Indonesia. The UNTAET had suggested that Indonesia publicly commit itself to paying the pensions and benefits accrued by those East Timorese who had worked for the Indonesian civil service, even if they return to East Timor.

He said that Mr. Vieira de Mello will visit Jakarta next week to follow up on bilateral issues, including the security situation at the border with West Timor. As East Timor moved towards independence, UNTAET was focusing on objective benchmarks that would have to be achieved, rather than trying to establish a fixed timetable. That was a complex and politically sensitive undertaking, that would involve close consultation with the East Timorese. Mr. Vieira de Mello had reported that those consultations already had begun in an informal manner.

Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said everyone would want to pay tribute to what Mr. Vieira de Mello had achieved in East Timor and commend the entire UNTAET team. It was a sign of confidence in that leadership that had led to the assumption that, despite difficulties, things were moving steadily and inexorably in the right direction towards independence. Today’s briefing and the news of recent weeks, however, had been a reminder of some serious problems, namely, the increasing criminality in East Timor. Hopefully, the deployment of the rapid reaction unit would help, and tribute should be paid to Portugal for leading that effort. Also welcome were the stricter controls in the area of police activity, as well as the opening of an East Timorese training school and the establishment of a police group, which would hopefully help UNTAET bring the unofficial security groups under its control.

He said his second point was even more serious: continued reports of militia activity in East Timor. The recent outbreaks of violence had appeared to be the worst since the mission’s deployment last fall. The press had reported on evidence of the involvement of Indonesian armed forces. As Mr. Annabi had stated, elements of the Indonesian armed forces had continued to tolerate, or even support, militia activity in East Timor. It had been encouraging to hear that UNTAET had vigorously pressed that issue in Jakarta. Clearly, the Indonesian Government had been somewhat aware of the situation and had made it clear that it would not support any residual complicity between the armed forces and the militia. However, it must be ensured that those promises were kept, as continued militia activity and complicity was completely unacceptable. The UNTAET must be allowed to do its job and bring East Timor to independence, without such interference. He was also concerned about the slow rate of disbursement of funds from the United Nations Trust Fund.

NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said that the briefing had been sobering. It was clear that it continued to be a very difficult mission. The members of UNTAET had to be commended for doing a successful job in a difficult situation. It was important to shine light repeatedly on the situation there. She was deeply disturbed by reports of continuing militia-operations in the refugee camps and along the border.

She said that that situation had to be addressed by the Council in a separate session. The United States had repeatedly urged the Indonesian. Government to disarm those groups. She was also disturbed by attacks against peacekeepers and called on the Indonesian authorities to disarm the hard core militias and move them away from East Timor. Those were not new ideas. More than enough time had elapsed for the Council to see positive action. She urged Indonesia to extend the deadline for support for refugees to return to East Timor beyond 31 March.

Her Government had provided contributions in a wide range of needs, over $20 million in humanitarian assistance. The call for adequate funds for refugees must be heeded by all, she said. Her Government would spend $20 million to provide for development projects in order to develop employment opportunities. Internal security was another primary priority. Local police capabilities had to be established. The Trust Fund received the contributions pledged slowly. She urged donors to get aid into East Timor quickly.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said he was deeply honoured to participate in the work of the Council. He would heed all and be alive to the concerns of all, and stand ready to enter into dialogue. Fortunately, the Council today was addressing itself to the particularly difficult situation in East Timor. Indeed, the mission there might serve as an example for United Nations peacekeeping operations. He had a few questions concerning the situation of returning refugees from West Timor, which had numbered approximately 100,000. The problem, therefore, had remained a major concern of the Council.

He noted the pledge by the Indonesian and army authorities to work to end militia and pro-integrationist activities, but he wondered whether they were in a position to implement those commitments in the field and strictly monitor the local activities of the militia hierarchy. He also questioned whether the return of refugees had accelerated in recent weeks and the role of UNTAET in that regard. The establishment of the National Advisory Council on 2 December was welcome, as that would make it possible for all Timorese to express their views. Had an initial balance sheet on the Commission’s activities been drawn up and had the Commission met regularly to deal with all important issues? he asked.

Turning to a more future-oriented issue, he commended the outstanding work performed by Mr. Vieira de Mello and UNTAET, but wondered about the future of East Timor, beyond the United Nations presence. For example, had there been any expectations about the expansion of local resources? Taxes on imports had been levied in East Timor, for the first time, but what were Mr. Annabi’s views on the long-term prospects for East Timor? he asked.

ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) said that UNTAET and Mr. Vieira de Mello should be congratulated for the successes they had achieved. He was, however, concerned about militia activity and border skirmishes. UNTAET troops had come under fire three times and there had been other incidents, as well. Such acts undermined the Indonesian President’s policy of reconciliation. He was encouraged by the signing of a memorandum of understanding on human rights matters.

Indonesia’s report on human rights violation was courageous, he said. Indonesia’s intention to prosecute those responsible for atrocities was welcome. He was encouraged that refugees continued to return to East Timor. The process was accelerating despite the militia campaign of harassment and misinformation. As the 31 March deadline set by Indonesia approached, what degree of confidence was there that the bulk of those who intended to return had returned? He asked. Was there some flexibility in the deadline?

ANDREI GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said there were sufficient grounds for optimism. While only the first stage had been completed, it was an extremely important stage. The positive trends in East Timor, primarily in the area of security, had definitely been gaining ground, thanks to the efforts of UNTAET under the able guidance of Mr. Vieira de Mello. At the same time, he had been concerned at reports of a resurgence of the activities of the pro- integration militia, which had sought to impede the return of refugees. The speedy, effective resolution of the refugee problem would, to a large extent, determine the successful handling of present tasks. The revival of the economy and the establishment of effective governance were also crucial. The Council must continue to “carefully and regularly” follow developments.

LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said that there was no doubt that the United Nations had done work of great magnitude in the territory, as East Timor moved to independence. In that regard, it was positive that the effort had been carried out in close cooperation with the people of East Timor. There was, however, concern about the situation of the refugees, and about the illegal activities carried out at the border.

He said that, as there were individuals who wished to remain in Indonesia, care should be taken that they could be integrated into that country. The increased tension along the eastern border had been caused by some elements of the militias. The UNTAET had enhanced security in those regions and that response indicated that the United Nations stood ready to defend the safety of all East Timorese. The militias must be fully disarmed and greater monitoring must be carried out.

The exchange of bilateral visits would foster reconciliation and would contribute to solving the refugee issue and the issue of border incidents, he said. He asked what UNTAET's reaction was to Indonesia's proposal to establish joint observation points along the border.

ALPHONS HAMER (Netherlands) said that, while the problems in East Timor had remained enormous, the tremendous recent developments were welcome. The visit of the Indonesian President to East Timor in February had been an important step towards the normalization of relations. The visit had sent an important political signal and had led to concrete results, such as the opening of an air route to Kupang and access to cross-border trade. Major worries had remained, however, such as the safe and voluntary return of internally displaced persons, accompanied by reports of intimidation and the spread of vigilante justice. Particularly serious had been the increasing number of border incidents. He had expected more determined efforts by the Indonesian Government to bring those under its control.

He said he had further questions relating to the security issue, namely, the need for future armed forces in East Timor. Avoiding unrest was greatly needed in order to promote reconstruction and instil in the East Timorese a sense of ownership. Hopefully, the development of community empowerment projects would succeed in including East Timorese and convincing them of a sense of ownership. Could Mr. Annabi also identify efforts to develop the private sector? he asked. Also, he wanted additional details about the interlocutors and the leadership, which must be developed in order to guide the country through the enormous challenges on its path. The criminal investigation of the murder of the Dutch journalist had highlighted the importance of international cooperation.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said that recently there had been some positive developments in East Timor. The transition from INTERFET to UNTAET had been smooth. The Indonesian President had paid a visit to East Timor. As a whole, the situation continued to be stable and the task of reconstruction had been started.

There were still many difficulties in maintaining the stable situation and the reconstruction, such as the sabotage activities, the return of refugees, and the lack of resources. He hoped that all parties would continue to maintain the spirit of cooperation and reconciliation and that they would improve further their close cooperation with the United Nations.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said he had been pleased at the follow-up to the smooth transfer of peacekeeping duties, but he had been concerned about the recent increase in cross-border incidents. The situation should not be allowed to deteriorate into a prolonged security issue, which could comprise ongoing efforts towards independence and rehabilitation. The country must concentrate on the process of nation building. The dire plight of the refugees must be addressed as soon as possible to enable them to return home and rebuild their shattered lives. In addition, ex-combatants should be reintegrated into society.

He said that reconciliation efforts should be intensified. East Timor could not afford to be saddled with security problems indefinitely. Rather, it must be ensured that when independence came, it would not be too late or too early, before the East Timorese were ready. In learning from the decolonization experiences of the past, it was important to fully and adequately prepare the people and leadership for that final stage. The paramount importance of building strong structures should also be stressed. For its part, UNTAET and its head should be commended for the outstanding work achieved thus far.

CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) wished to commend UNTAET for its work as it sought, in collaboration with the East Timorese people, to lay the foundation for the transition to independence. The transfer of INTERFET to UNTAET had been completed on target. Among other positive developments, he mentioned the establishment of the East Timor postal service, and the approval of regulations for a new border regime, for the courts and for public procurement for civil administration. The recent visits of the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of Indonesia were also positive developments.

He remained concerned about the pervasive unemployment and the generally precarious economic and social situation in East Timor. That situation contributed to criminal activity. The reports of recent incursions by the militia were also of grave concern. The UNTAET must continue to maintain a firm security presence throughout East Timor, he said.

The rate of refugee return had also been encouraging, he continued. The long-term sustainable development of East Timor must continue to be given priority attention. The international community must continue to focus its attention on capacity and institution building. By fostering a spirit of confidence, reconciliation and cooperation among the East Timorese, significant progress would continue to be made.

SELMA NDEYAPO ASHIPALA-MUSAVYI (Namibia) said that, despite the satisfactory progress of UNTAET, there remained certain areas of concern, such as the availability of civilian police and the slow pace at which funds for reconstruction and development became available. Those matters had to be addressed soon, to ensure that the socio-economic situation did not deteriorate further.

President Wahid's visit to East Timor and the apology for the violence during Indonesia's occupation were significant acts to enhance reconciliation between the two countries, she said. The continuing meetings between East Timorese and militia leaders served as a vital mechanism for confidence building and reconciliation among the East Timorese themselves.

The rising incidents of cross-border attacks by militia were a matter of concern, she said. She welcomed the undertaking by the Indonesian Government to clamp down on militia activities in West Timor, and wondered if there had been an improvement in the situation. Noting that the repatriation of refugees from camps in West Timor continued, she asked whether Indonesia already had programmes for the reintegration into society of those refugees who had indicated that they wished to remain in West Timor.

MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said he had questions about the security situation, specifically whether there was a problem with UNTAET’S staffing. Perhaps, the Secretariat could shed further light on the question about whether the number of personnel had been exaggerated. The return of the refugees had been the most important of the political questions. Both the United Nations and the international community should continue to make them a priority. He reiterated his support to the UNHCR and other organizations in the field to ensure the safe and dignified return of refugees. He also requested more information about the activities of the Joint Border Commission.

He said that the reconciliation process had been crucial for the establishment of stability, which was necessary for sustainable development. The establishment of a National Consultative Commission had been welcome, as that was an essential instrument for the true participation of the people in decision-making and a strengthened process of independence. Could Mr. Annabi provide a first assessment of the promotion of national reconciliation? he asked. The example of East Timor had shown that the quest for a solution to the problems of reconstruction could be based on coordinated cooperation among all relevant organizations, and a people, themselves.

ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that the deployment of civilian police had been a very positive sign, but the impediments to a more rapid deployment needed to be removed. He was seriously concerned about the violence of the militias. Serious efforts had to be made to keep that under control. Closing the camps in areas around the border was a good point to start.

The Quick Impact projects bore promise and needed Council encouragement. The revenue situation should improve with revenues from customs and taxes. The slow disbursement of funds was a problem. It would be a pity to see that the effort was faltering because of slow disbursement, he said.

Health and education needed special attention. There was a special need to focus on the education of girls, he said. The unemployment situation needed both short- and long-term measures. Micro-credit programmes could jump start the economy.

He said that unity and reconciliation was also a priority area. President Wahid’s visit to East Timor augured well in that respect. As regards to the future of the political process, he agreed that, rather than setting up a time frame, it was indeed better to set up bench marks, as recommended in the report.

Mr. ANNABI then responded to questions and comments. Regarding the slow disbursement of funds from the Trust Fund, he said that everyone had agreed that it had been much slower than anyone would have liked. The Secretary-General had also voiced his frustration and wished he had a magic wand to turn donor pledges into instant reconstruction. That process would take time, however. The agreement with the World Bank had only been signed at the end of February. He hoped it would be implemented promptly.

Moreover, he continued, in view of the level and extent of destruction in the country, and the fact that a great number of skilled workers had left following the tragic events of last year, rehabilitation, reconstruction and capacity-building would be a difficult and slow process. The Trust Fund had been dedicated mainly to paying civil servants and, as the civil service grew, the disbursement of funds would accelerate. Partners were being identified to further develop the quick impact projects, which should also speed up disbursement.

To several questions regarding the return of refugees, he said the rough estimate had been approximately 100,000 refugees remaining. The UNHCR was currently carrying out a census, which was expected to confirm that approximately half of those, or 50,000, wished to return to East Timor. The UNHCR and UNTAET also felt there would have to be flexibility regarding the end- of-March deadline in terms of those returning to East Timor. The recent flow of refugees had not been very strong, since a number of concerns remained, including apprehensions about their treatment. Flexibility should also be demonstrated in the resettlement of those who did not wish to return. The focus overall should be on providing an opportunity to all refugees to freely determine where they wanted to resettle. Concerning the commitment of the Indonesian authorities to facilitate the return of refugees, their assurances were genuine, as was their desire to cooperate in resolving those problems. There were Indonesian armed forces elements on the ground that had continued to impede implementation of those assurances; many had their own agendas, or might be attempting to embarrass or create difficulties for the President. Undoubtedly, the Government had been determined to cooperate. It was a question of translating those commitments into action on the ground and convincing those who still opposed the resolution of the problem to cooperate or be removed. The returns of refugees had not accelerated recently.

To a question about the National Consultative Council, he said that had been a very useful mechanism for the Special Representative, which had enabled him to consult with the East Timorese, including with some of the pro-autonomy groups that had joined the Council. It did meet regularly and had held regular consultations with the Special Representative. It had also been consulted on the recruitment of civil servants. Mr. Vieira de Mello had made it clear that the United Nations’ mandate had been to set up an interim administration for the East Timorese and in cooperation with them, in order that they might prepare and achieve independence. Two of the three pro-autonomy groups had joined the National Consultative Council. Some sensitive issues had been raised concerning who might be the actual representatives.

It was a bit early to identify prospects for income generation and long- term development, he said. That was a “slow and difficult process”, and it would be unwise to hide from that reality. The level of destruction had made reconstruction a long-term process, and one which UNTAET did not have the resources to resolve. That would require a long-term commitment by the international community, which must sustain the investment in order to allow East Timor to become independent and engage in long-term self-sustaining development.

The future of Falantil was a rather sensitive issue for the Timorese. Consultations between the Special Representative and members of the Falantil had begun, he said. The numbers involved were between 800 and 1,000 people. East Timor might not want an army, but they needed some kind of security force, where those people could be integrated.

The question on how refugees could be encouraged to return had been raised in Jakarta. The IOM was implementing a programme to encourage the return of refugees. One must realize, he said, that there are those who are living abroad and are happy to stay where they were.

It would take time to create a private sector, he said, in response to a question about that issue. Everything had been destroyed, and one had to start from nothing. Generating a capacity for private sector activities would take time and was also linked to the overall reconstruction process.

He described the attitude of the East Timorese leadership as "gratified". There had been a very close and good cooperation. Of course, there were some frustrations. One of them was that the East Timorese leadership would like faster improvements than were possible. He did not think that the troop strength of UNTAET was too high. Seven thousand two hundred troops were deployed right now, but he would like to receive the additional assets that were missing, especially in the light of the border incidents. He was, however, convinced that as soon as the security situation had improved, the Secretary-General would soon suggest a reduction in the troop strength.

The round table on national reconciliation had recently met in Singapore, he said, and had made a start with national reconciliation between groups. As for the question about speeding up the deployment of police officers, he said that by the end of the week, close to 1,000 police would be deployed. There had been more offers for police officers than were actually needed. It was now a question of making the arrangements with the contributing countries. He foresaw full deployment of the police force within two months.

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For information media. Not an official record.