• Kyodo

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The Ground Self-Defense Force marked the handover of construction equipment to the East Timor government Friday, having completed its reconstruction mission there.

The facilities and equipment scheduled to be handed over to East Timor include 867 prefabricated houses, 30 bulldozers and other road construction machines, along with 59 trucks and other vehicles.

Japanese Ambassador to East Timor Hideaki Asahi and East Timor Finance Minister Maria Boavida formalized the handover at a ceremony held in Dili.

The GSDF engineering unit completed its U.N. peacekeeping mission in East Timor on Thursday.

East Timor’s prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, who attended the ceremony, said he hopes the Japanese government will monitor how the equipment is used.

The activities of the GSDF engineering unit, comprising 450 members, was part of the U.N. Mission of Support in East Timor, set up by the U.N. Security Council to aid political stability, law enforcement and public security.

The actual transfer of the equipment will be carried out at the GSDF camp in Dili on Monday and at the camp in Maliana on Tuesday.

The GSDF unit was dispatched in March 2002, two months before East Timor gained independence from Indonesia. It was engaged in the maintenance and repair of roads and bridges, along with the upkeep of water stations.

The GSDF engineers were also involved in the maintenance of farm irrigation and school athletic grounds. They also taught local people how to operate construction machinery.

ASDF flights halted

The Air Self-Defense Force will suspend flights of cargo planes carrying supplies and food to southern Iraq after a shell hit a local airport, the Defense Agency chief said Friday.

Shigeru Ishiba said the lone shell landed near Tallil airport, which has been used by ASDF C-130 cargo planes delivering supplies for U.S.-led coalition troops and relief goods to Iraqis from bases in Kuwait. No injuries were reported.

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