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UN pullout would leave Timor-Leste facing insurmountable challenges, Security Council told

UN pullout would leave Timor-Leste facing insurmountable challenges, Security Council told

The withdrawal from Timor-Leste of United Nations military liaisons and police trainers as scheduled later this spring might leave the country facing insurmountable challenges in its path towards peace and stability, the top UN envoy to the nation told the Security Council today.

The remarks by Sukehiro Hasegawa, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative, came as the Council met to consider a report by Mr. Annan in which he recommends extending the UN presence in Timor-Leste beyond the 20 May expiration of the mandate of the UN Mission of Support for East Timor (UNMISET).

In that report, Mr. Annan said a scaled-down UN mission should be kept in the country for another year to continue assisting Timorese authorities with border management and control, the development of a professional police service and of critical institutions, and the observance of democratic governance and human rights.

"A premature termination of the tasks described above may jeopardize those very achievements as well as the significant investment that the international community has made in Timor-Leste since 1999," he wrote.

Mr. Hasegawa told the Council today that he fully supported Mr. Annan's recommendation but added that the 12-month period could be shortened if bilateral and multilateral arrangements were found to assume the responsibilities that UNMISET currently performs.

The reconfigured mission would run until 20 May 2006 and include 35 military liaison officers, down from 42, and 40 police trainers, down from the current 157. The number of civilian advisers would also be reduced, to 45 from 58, while the mission would have 10 human rights officers, down from the current 14.