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Malaysia to send 30 military personnel to East Timor.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept. 17 Kyodo

Malaysia will send a token force of 30 military personnel to join the Australian-led multinational peacekeeping force in East Timor, Defense Minister Abang Abu Bakar Mustapha said Friday.

He told reporters that one of them, an army general as yet unnamed, will be appointed as a senior commander of the multinational peacekeeping force.

"The government has now decided on a token force of 17 officers, one of whom will be the deputy commander of the force, and 13 of other ranks," Abang Abu Bakar said.

The team is expected to leave this weekend.

Malaysia had earlier decided not to participate due to reservations over Australia leading the team.

Abang Abu Bakar had even announced Thursday morning that Malaysia would not send a contingent to East Timor for the moment as it prefers a United Nations (U.N.)-led team comprising troops from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

But Abang Abu Bakar said the government changed its mind following an appeal from Indonesia and after U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan spoke to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday.

Abang Abu Bakar said Malaysia will participate "in a big way" in the "proper U.N. peacekeeping force" six weeks after the Australian-led multilateral mission completes its task.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Sep 20, 1999
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