Visit to Timor-Leste and Sri Lanka

Media release

11 December 2012

Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr will make a two-day visit to Timor-Leste over December 13-14 2012, for talks with Timor-Leste leaders on economic, aid and security matters.

Senator Carr will hold talks with senior figures in the Government of Timor-Leste and Parliamentary leaders, including President Taur Matan Ruak and Prime Minister Xanana Gusm√£o.

The visit coincides with the phased withdrawal of the United Nations’ Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and drawdown of the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF).

The withdrawal marks a new era in Australia-Timor-Leste relations with the transfer of security responsibilities to local forces. Following ISF and UNMIT withdrawal, Australia will continue to support Timor-Leste’s police and defence institutions through the bilateral Defence Cooperation Program and Police Development Program.

Discussions would also involve future plans for development assistance, with an emphasis on Australia’s continued support for education and health. Australia provided $127¬†million in development assistance to Timor-Leste in 2012-13.

Senator Carr will also visit the Resistance Museum and present a gift from Australia to Timor-Leste’s Resistance Museum, marking the tenth anniversary of independence. The gift is a profile of the material on Timor-Leste held by the National Film and Sound Archive.

The Foreign Minister will also travel to Sri Lanka over December 14-17, 2012 for talks with Sri Lanka’s leadership including the External Affairs Minister, the Hon. Professor G.L. Peiris.

Talks will cover aid, economic development, human rights and people smuggling issues.

Australia provides $47 million a year in aid to Sri Lanka, with a focus on education and the rebuilding of economic infrastructure following the end of the civil conflict in 2009. Past aid contributions include clearing of unexploded ordnance and land mines, rebuilding of around 5,000 homes and 23 schools and delivery of water and sanitation to nearly 44,000 people.

Sri Lanka is also an important regional partner in the fight against people smuggling, having disrupted more than 60 separate people smuggling ventures this year involving around 2,900 people.

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