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East Timor military interested in Top End training

ABC News - November 25, 2011

Sara Everingham – East Timor says it is interested in taking part in joint military training with the Australian and US defence forces in Darwin.

East Timor's Secretary of State for Defence, Julio Pinto, says the US President Barack Obama's recent announcement of an increased US military presence in the Top End could provide training opportunities for his country's young military.

Australia and the US already hold training exercises with East Timor's military in East Timor.

He says his government is likely to pursue more talks with Australia and the United States about how East Timor's military can take part in any joint exercises in northern Australia.

Mr Pinto says in 2009 he held discussions with Australian officials about the possibility of a deployment of East Timor's military to Darwin for joint training, he says this could now be the chance to make that happen.

"I think in the future we will try to contact with the Australian and United States representatives in Timor-Leste to do joint exercises as well in Darwin if possible"

"We just have 10 years after independence to stabilise our military institutions so we have very low experience in terms of military professionalism, so we try to cooperate with other countries to transfer skills to our military"

Mr Pinto said Australian and US representatives met him in Dili to inform him of the new military arrangements between Australia and the United States He declined to comment on the US strategy of increasing its military presence in Australia.

He says a representative from Australia's embassy in Dili has said there is a possibility for East Timor's military to join in the training in Darwin. "If it is possible we will do it," Mr Pinto said.