20 September 2009

Australia marks 10 years in East Timor

20 September 2009 Australia marks 10 years in East Timor Australia led the multi-national peacekeeping force. (Department of Defence) - Today marks the 10th anniversary of Australia's involvement in East Timor's multi-national peacekeeping force.

In 1999, East Timor was rebuilding after the violence which followed its overwhelming vote for independence from Indonesia in a UN-sponsored referendum.

On September 20, the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) arrived in Dilli, led by Australian General Peter Cosgrove.

Australia contributed 5,700 troops to INTERFET.

Twenty-one other nations also contributed - including the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand, Britain, the United States, and Canada.

Historian Steve Bullard says a commemorative address will be held today at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to remember Australia's contribution.

"INTERFET in particular is important because it is the largest peacekeeping mission that Australia ever embarked on, and it was also the first time we had been the lead nation and also supplied the commander for that force," he said.

"It was the largest force we had sent over sea of any kind since the Vietnam War, and so marking 10 years is certainly a significant anniversary."

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