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On stand-by: The boats are moored in waters off northern Australia. [File photo]

On stand-by: The boats are moored in waters off northern Australia. [File photo] (ABC TV)

Navy on stand-by for E Timor deployment

Prime Minister John Howard says two Navy amphibious transport ships are standing by in case of further unrest in East Timor.

HMAS Kanimbla and HMAS Manoora are heading to waters in Australia's north.

Earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said the situation in East Timor remained unstable after riots by rebel soldiers.

Mr Howard says if a request for help comes, the Navy will be in a position to respond quickly.

"We have had absolutely no requests," he said.

"I simply repeat that what the military does quite sensibly is use its assets in such a way that if we were to receive a request we'd be able to respond."

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says it is sensible to send two warships to Australia's north.

"This is our area, it's our back door, it's a difficult back door, it's not getting any easier. It's another good reason for not bogging ourselves down in Iraq," Mr Beazley told Sydney radio's 2GB.

In other developments:

  • The United Nations (UN) has been asked to extend its mission in East Timor, initially by one month, following a deadly riot, the mission said. (Full Story)
  • East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta has warned political parties in the tiny nation to behave themselves in the wake of recent unrest or face losing credibility ahead of elections next year. (Full Story)
  • East Timor has invited international human rights monitors to visit the country, to investigate allegations of violence by Timorese security forces. (Full Story)

  • East Timor's government has made contact with nearly 400 of some 600 sacked soldiers whose protest last month turned into a deadly riot. (Full Story)
  • East Timor's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri says the deadly unrest last month and this week was a continuing attempt to stage a coup. (Full Story)

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