Australian defence minister off to Indonesia, East Timor

BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific

September 16, 2008

Text of report by Radio Australia, international service of the government-funded ABC, on 16 September

The region’s defence and stability will be the subject of talks when Australia’s defence minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, travels to Indonesia and then East Timor over the next couple of days. The visit follows on from last week’s statement by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who voiced concern over an arms build-up in the region.

While in East Timor, the question of when Australian military personnel will pull out from the fledgling country will also be discussed, although no date is being considered. Mr Fitzgibbon says defence ties with Indonesia have become closer, which Australia wants to continue.

[Fitzgibbon] It’s a large developing nation to our near north, and it’s absolutely in Australia’s interest that we do all we can in working with the Indonesians to promote stability in their own country. And we’ve been very happy in recent years with the way Indonesia has developed, and we want to continue with that good progress.

Source: Radio Australia, Melbourne, in English 1100 gmt 16 Sep 08

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