Dilli, East Timor: India yesterday agreed to train East Timor navy personnel and has signedan agreement to this effect. The agreement was signed by Indian ambassador to East Timor, Biren Nanda and state secretary for defence, Julio Tomas Pinto.
20 of the total 75 naval personnel scheduled for training will go to India in the first phase. The training period will be of a duration of six months. "The length of training time may be extended depending on the MoU," explained Pinto.
The training of East Timor's security forces is part of a preliminary process to take over from international peacekeeping forces led by Australia. There are currently around 1.300 personnel from Australia and New Zealand placed deployed in Indonesia's former 27th province since the May 2006 riots.
East Timor has also agreed to have similar training programmes with a number of countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Australia has announced plans to reduce the number of its troops in East Timor to 650 beginning next year. According to Australian defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon, the measure is being undertaken as stability has improved in East Timor.
Internal strife in the breakaway province of Indonesia seems set to continue with fresh threats being issued by former prime minister Mari Alkatiri who has threatened to overthrow prime minister Xanana Gusmao.
Alkatiri, secretary general of Freitilin, the biggest opposition party in the province, rejected the results of last year's parliamentary elections, which was won by a coalition led by Gusmao. Alkatiri has accused Gusmao of cheating and considers his regime to be illegal.