Posted : Wed, 09 Sep 2009 09:11:36 GMT Author : DPA Australasia World News - Dili - East Timor plans to send soldiers to Indonesia, its former occupier, to train them in technical skills such as engineering and mapping, its defence chief said Wednesday. Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak said East Timor's tiny military needed to improve the skills of its troops to allow them to combat illegal fishing in the Timor Sea and deal with border threats.
"We are in a new phase of cooperation with the Indonesian military," Matan Ruak said. "We are hoping that we will formalize a memorandum of understanding soon so that we can send our troops to Indonesia to get technical training."
Cooperation would cover areas such as engineering and mapping as well regular formal meetings on border issues between the two defence forces, Matan Ruak said.
The Timorese military has 1,300 personnel and plans to have 2,000 troops by 2012.
Illegal fishing and other crimes are rampant in the Timor Sea but East Timor has not been able to prevent those activities because it lacks resources and equipment, the defence chief said.
"Our sea is open to everyone and nobody is there to protect our sovereignty," he said. "But next year we will have two operational military ships to watch all kinds of activities."
Indonesia had invaded East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, in 1975.
East Timorese voted to break away from Indonesian rule in 1999 in a UN-sponsored referendum marred by violence largely carried out by pro-Jakarta militiamen.
East Timor became formally independent in 2002 after a period of UN administration.