At the handover ceremony in Dili, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the head of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), said "it is not often that the Secretary-General is able to report back to the Security Council that one of its resolutions has been fulfilled as is the case here: peace and security were restored in East Timor."
The international force had been in East Timor since September 1999, when the Security Council had authorized it to help restore security and protect the UN mission, as well as facilitate humanitarian assistance operations.
In his farewell to INTERFET Commander Major General Peter Cosgrove, Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusm=E3o said, "We thank you personally from our hearts. When the children of our nation learn of the sacrifices made by all of our martyrs, they will learn also of the role of INTERFET."
In other news on East Timor, the Security Council has encouraged Indonesia to institute a "swift, comprehensive, effective and transparent legal process," to bring to justice those responsible for the "grave violations" of international humanitarian and human rights law" committed in the territory, according to a Council letter released today.
In the letter by the Council's president, Arnoldo Manuel Listre, Council members noted that the accountability of those responsible for the violations would be "a key factor in ensuring reconciliation and stability in East Timor." The members of the Council also stressed that early and effective action by Indonesia would contribute to improved relations between the peoples of Indonesia and East Timor.
Council members also welcomed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's intention to ensure that the UN plays a role in the process of helping to safeguard the rights of the people of East Timor and promote reconciliation and future social and political stability