Wellington – New Zealand's top military officer left for Timor-Leste Monday in a show of support for the young Pacific nation's security.
The Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, said he would hold talks with Commander of the Timor-Leste Defence Force Major General Lere Anan Timur, Prime Minister Dr Rui Maria de Araujo and President Taur Matan Ruak.
"This is a good opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and reaffirm New Zealand's commitment to Timor-Leste's security and prosperity," Keating said in a statement.
"New Zealand has a long history of defence cooperation with Timor-Leste, and a considerable number of current and former NZDF (New Zealand Defence Force) personnel were deployed to the country in various rotations to help ensure stability after the independence referendum from Indonesia in 1999," he said.
"The NZDF continues to maintain a small presence in Timor-Leste, with two personnel currently deployed as part of the Mutual Assistance Program, providing logistics training and strategic advice to the Timor-Leste Defence Force."
The visit is the latest in a series of exchanges to strengthen ties between the two countries. Last week Prime Minister Rui Araujo and two other ministers visited New Zealand and held talks with Prime Minister Bill English.
Timor-Leste gained independence from Indonesia in 2002. Keating would go on to Perth, Australia, from Timor-Leste to observe Exercise Ocean Explorer, an Australian-led maritime military exercise involving three New Zealand ships.