23 February 1999: Alexander Downer to Lloyd Axworthy

Rather than sharing Canadian views, Australia appeared to want a different outcome. “It is my particular concern that East Timor’s transition - whether to autonomy or to independence - be peaceful and orderly,” Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer wrote to Axworthy after their phone conversation. Downer rejected calls from various NGO sources and Timorese for an international security presence to replace Indonesian troops, stressing “the need for effective internal East Timorese reconciliation before any withdrawal of existing security authorities and their replacement by alternate arrangements for ensuring internal security.” He resisted calls for UN peacekeepers: “We would hope that the need for such a force would not arise…. The parties should be encouraged to work towards solutions that do not rely on external peacekeepers.”

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