Today marked a new step in the defence relationship between New Zealand and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, said Defence Minister Wayne Mapp after the two countries signed a bilateral Defence Cooperation Arrangement.
The Arrangement was signed today in Auckland by Dr Mapp and Dr Julio Tomas Pinto, Secretary of State for Defence, Timor-Leste, along with Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
Dr Mapp said the Arrangement will provide a solid foundation for a long-term bilateral relationship on defence and security issues with Timor-Leste.
“New Zealand has been part of the international security presence in Timor-Leste since 1999,” said Dr Mapp. “We expect our military personnel to begin leaving Timor-Leste after the presidential and parliamentary elections that will be held in Timor-Leste next year.
“The Arrangement we signed today provides the foundation for the next stage of our relationship as Timor-Leste takes responsibility for its own security matters,” said Dr Mapp.
New Zealand will support Timor-Leste through a programme of cooperative bilateral defence activities, such as helping with capacity building for the Timorese Defence Force, training courses and attachments in both Timor-Leste and New Zealand, and Defence diplomacy.
“We undertake similar activities with many of our other partners,” said Dr Mapp. “For example, we have about 10 nationalities studying at our Defence College in Trentham.
“Having military students from Timor-Leste will add to our valued partnerships in South East Asia.”