Thank you Mr. President. I would like to extend a warm welcome to His Excellency Mr. Jose Gutierrez, Deputy Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, to the Council today and congratulate him on the achievements of the Timorese people. I would also like to welcome Special Representative Khare and thank him for his comprehensive briefing.
Mr. President, Timor-Leste has made significant progress since the political crises and violence of 2006. Although the situation remains fragile, the Timorese commitment to peace is clear. It was on full display on August 30th when Timor-Leste celebrated the tenth anniversary of the popular consultation.
My government welcomes the progress the Timorese have made in the area of security, in particular, in the development of a national security policy and national security legislation. And we recognize the increased professionalization of the Timorese police and military as witnessed by their efforts to ensure a secure and stable environment following the February 2008 assassination attempts on the President and Prime Minister. The recent transfer of policing responsibilities from UNMIT to the Timorese national police in three districts is a step forward, and we hope to see further such transfers to Timorese police in the near future. We also encourage the Timorese, as they continue to develop their national security policy, to clearly delineate the roles of the police and the military, an essential element of effective rule of law and administration of justice.
Mr. President, the United States is committed to assisting Timor-Leste develop its security sector. We have increased our military cooperation, and we are currently conducting training exercises in Timor-Leste and neighboring Indonesia. We are pleased that key Timorese decision makers have accepted our invitation to participate in programs at the Asia Pacific Center on Security Studies in Hawaii for the second consecutive year.
Mr. President, Timor-Leste has also made progress in democratic governance and rule of law. We congratulate the Timorese for carrying out peaceful local elections, and we commend UNMIT for its support to this process. We also applaud President Ramos-Horta’s initiative to open a broad dialogue with the Timorese people on priority issues.
But a critical element of democratic governance is an independent judiciary. We therefore encourage the Government of Timor-Leste to continue its administrative reforms, including the development of legislative frameworks and a justice sector that establishes accountability for criminal offenses and puts an end to impunity and grave violations of human rights. We believe that the recommendations of the independent comprehensive needs assessment of the justice sector, could provide critical tools to reform the sector and improve accountability.
Mr. President, social cohesion and economic development are key to long-term stability. The recent closing of camps for internally displaced persons and the safe return and resettlement for these individuals are important steps toward reconciliation. Further, we acknowledge the progress Timorese officials have made in addressing the national priorities outlined in the International Compact for Timor-Leste, and the measures the Government is taking to improve access to primary education, decrease malnutrition, raise employment levels, and increase child protection. It is critical that the Timorese leadership continue these efforts to reduce poverty and create additional employment opportunities – a priority benchmark in the Secretary-General’s report. For our part, the United States will continue to support the Timorese people in these efforts. We have provided 24 million US dollars this year to support an array of programs including in health, rural economic development and judicial reform.
Mr. President, let me conclude by paying tribute to Special Representative Khare, and thanking him for his dedicated efforts to advance stability and prosperity in Timor-Leste. We’d like to wish him all the success in his future endeavors.
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