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UN East Timor Administrator in Sydney for talks on Australia's role in territory

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The head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) today met with Australian officials to discuss their country's participation in a number of administrative and security functions in the territory.
Sergio Vieira de Mello told reporters in Sydney that his talks focussed on continued Australian involvement in a number of areas, including the civilian police force, help to establish a customs and immigration service as well as the restoration of the banking system for the territory and currency exchange facilities.

In response to a question about controlling the mission's costs, Mr. Vieira de Mello said, "I intend to keep it lean, as small as possible and rely as much as we can on local resources, or train them as a matter of urgency so that they can take over even before independence. That is what we are there for."

Mr. Vieira de Mello is scheduled to return to Dili tomorrow, accompanied by Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos Horta, who will be returning to East Timor for the first time after 24 years of exile.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced the opening of a fourth repatriation corridor along the border with West Timor to speed the return of refugees. About 1,000 returnees have gone back through that new crossing since yesterday and about 110,000 people in all have returned to East Timor. The Indonesian Government estimated that about 140,000 people are still in refugee camps in West Timor.