UN chief says East Timor ready to protect itself
DILI, East Timor (AP) - East Timor is ready to maintain stability on its own without the hundreds of international peacekeepers who have stayed in Asia's newest country a decade after it declared formal independence, the United Nation's chief said on Wednesday.
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon started his two-day trip to the small, half-island nation by meeting with President Taur Matan Ruak, the former army chief and one-time guerrilla fighter who took office May 20 and replaced Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta.
The visit comes after the UN Security Council praised the country of 1.1 million people for holding peaceful presidential elections. Protests after last month's parliamentary elections resulted in violence that left one dead. But Asia's poorest country is now planning for the last of nearly 1,300 international peacekeepers to leave by year's end.
"Timor-Leste does not need U.N. peacekeeping operations at this time," Mr Ban said in the capital, Dili. "The National Police of Timor-Leste have strengthened their capacity. They have successfully helped the three rounds of parliamentary and presidential elections." He added that the United Nations would stay in East Timor in other capacities.