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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Australian FM in East Timor talks
Mr Downer (right) talks to Mr Ramos-Horta, as Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda looks on.
Australia is looking to reduce its troop presence
Foreign ministers from East Timor, Australia and Indonesia have held security talks in East Timor's capital, Dili.

The meeting followed an upsurge in unrest in the city and the escape of dozens of prison inmates.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said his country would continue to help provide security in the independent nation.

But he also said East Timor should take more responsibility for its affairs.

Australian troops have led an international force which has been in East Timor since May, after gang and ethnic violence left more than 20 dead and thousands homeless.


After the talks, which also included East Timor's Prime Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, Mr Downer said Australia was committed to helping East Timor.


"We obviously continue to be concerned about the security situation, the outbreak of violence in Dili, though the advice I've had is the situation is somewhat better then it has been," he said.

Mr Downer said Australia supported the recent UN decision to deploy a peacekeeping mission of 1,600 police, but stressed it would need to be backed up by a stronger military force.

But Australia has been looking to reduce its troop presence in East Timor and on Sunday, Mr Downer called on the government to take more responsibility for security.

"The East Timorese have to accept responsibility for their own affairs and work to solve their own problems, not expect us and the United Nations to fix up all their problems," he said.

'Not so fast'

Mr Ramos-Horta told journalists that while the situation in the country was improving, the Australian troop presence was necessary.

"The Australians - as are the New Zealanders, the Malaysians and the Portuguese - are very keen to leave as soon as possible," he said after the meeting.

"We are the ones to ask them: 'Please, not so fast.' We still need them here."

The UN refugee agency UNHCR warned last week that violence was escalating in Dili.

Sporadic clashes have been reported and last week 57 inmates, including rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, accused of sparking some of the May violence, broke out of prison in Dili.

None of the escapees have been recaptured and the Indonesian military says it has put troops on alert to prevent them crossing the border.


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