Australia adds support in Timor-Leste

Feb. 15, 2008 at 7:32 AM
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DILI, Timor-Leste, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd pledged support for Timor-Leste in the wake of rebel attacks on the southeast Asian country's president and prime minister.

Rudd met with Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in Dili and planned to visit the bedside Friday of President Jose Ramos-Horta, reported in stable condition at a Darwin hospital, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said.

Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was wounded by renegade soldiers at his home in an assassination attempt. Gusmao escaped injury in an attack on his motorcade the same day.

Rudd met with Gusmao for nearly an hour, after which both men spoke of solidarity between the two countries and the need to protect democracy in Timor-Leste.

Rudd also met with Acting President Fernando Lasama de Araujo and the commander of Australia's 1,000-person peacekeeping force. Australia dispatched more than 200 extra soldiers and police to Timor-Leste after the shooting.

Timor-Leste lies on an island shared with Indonesia about 310 miles north of Australia and is under a state of emergency as troops hunt for more than a dozen suspects in the assassination attempt.

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