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Australia says troops could soon leave East Timor

Associated Press - March 19, 2012

Canberra, Australia – Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith says parliamentary elections planned in East Timor could allow international troops to begin withdrawing after six years of restoring stability to the fledgling Southeast Asian nation.

Smith on Monday welcomed the success of weekend presidential elections. The official results won't be known until Tuesday, but the incumbent, Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta, had nowhere near the support needed to advance to an April 21 run-off between the two front-runners.

Smith says if the run-off election and June parliamentary elections are similarly successful, Australia will discuss with the government, United Nations and New Zealand a drawdown of the 470 Australian and New Zealand troops stationed in East Timor.