Australia deploys 1,300 troops to East Timor

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The Independent Online

Australia will send 1,300 troops to East Timor immediately because of the worsening fighting between dismissed soldiers and security forces, the Prime Minister John Howard said today.

Howard said the situation in East Timor had deteriorated significantly since he announced the deployment of 130 commandos to the troubled island nation to help to secure the airfield.

"Given the deterioration, we will go ahead without any conditionality with the full deployment and the 1,300 will be in place in a very short order," Howard told reporters.

Australia's deputy chief of defense was on his way to Dili to arrange for the deployment but his aircraft turned back to the northern city of Darwin because of the worsening violence, media reported.

He flew back to Dili later in a military transport aircraft with soldiers.

Howard confirmed that a naval frigate, reportedly carrying 220 soldiers, had reached Dili Harbor.

Details of the deployment would be settled with the East Timor government after the troops had arrived, he said.