The defense in this new nation comprises (2009) 1,300
men. In 1999, the international INTERFET force of 11,300 men
was replaced in East Timor's defense by a UN force, UNTAET,
of about 8,000 men from 32 countries. The mission was to be
responsible for a transition to a free nation. During the
process, the incoming government had access to an armed
force of about 1,500 men. This force was mainly converted in
2002 to a regular national defense with a reserve force of
another 1,500 men, organized in 2004.
The UN mandate is extended to February 2010 and includes
an operational part (ISF) of about 1,000 men from Australia,
Malaysia and Portugal and observers (UNMIT) from 14
countries. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that RTL stands for East Timor.
East Timor's foreign policy
Internationally, it has been a priority task to improve
relations with Indonesia, the new state's dominant trading
partner. East Timor's leaders have let it shine through that
they do not want a court settlement following the 1999
violence to complicate relations with Indonesia. The
relationship was further strengthened after the countries
entered into cooperation agreements in a wide range of areas
in 2008 and agreed on virtually all unresolved issues
regarding border demarcation at sea and on land. Indonesia
supports East Timor's application for membership in the
regional cooperation organization ASEAN from 2012.
In 2008, the final report from the joint
Timorese-Indonesian Truth and Friendship Commission was
handed over to Presidents Ramos-Horta and Yudhoyono. It is
substantially opposed to the official Indonesian version of
the incident during and after the 1999 independence
referendum. The abuses were not spontaneous, but organized
and deliberately aimed at terrorizing the population, the
commission's conclusion reads.
The relationship with Australia was long characterized by
Australia's early recognition of Indonesia's supremacy over
East Timor after the invasion of 1975. This improved after
an agreement on sharing of petroleum resources in the sea
was signed in 2001. A new agreement from January 2006
secures East Timor 90% of the royalty revenue from the
Greater Sunrise gas field in the Timor Sea. The 2006
agreement postpones the final marking of the border line
between the two Timorese countries for 50 years.
Australia has played a key role in security policy since
independence in 2002, including the deployment of
peacekeeping forces in East Timor.