Timetable for Timor peacekeepers needs to be advanced

Timetable for Timor peacekeepers needs to be advanced – McKinnon too ‘stand-offish’

The Green Party says more urgency is needed in sending peacekeepers to East Timor.

“The killings on the island could quickly spiral out of control following the call by independence leader Xanana Gusmao for his guerrillas to resist pro-Indonesian militia attacks,” said Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke.

“There is an urgent need for international forces on the ground to calm the situation.

“Even unarmed international observers would help deter the violence. Putting them into East Timor could be an initial step, ahead of peacekeeping troops.

“Foreign Minister Don McKinnon is being too ‘stand-offish’. We shouldn’t just wait for Australia or other countries to take the initiative. We should be pushing for peacekeepers or observers to enter East Timor at the earliest possible moment. We should also offer a significant number of Kiwi personnel.

“A proper vote on Timorese self-determination will be endangered if there is large scale armed conflict and the population lives in fear,” said Mr Locke.