East Timor could soon have its own defence force due to its improving security situation, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith has said.

“Everyone is optimistic that if the current circumstances prevail, then after the election we will be in a position to transition away … to East Timor taking responsibility for all of its security arrangements,” he added.

Smith also added that, “we would continue to want to do things like train, mentor and provide every assistance. We have also had discussions about Australia and East Timor and Indonesia working more closely together.”

About 400 Australian troops are currently serving in East Timor as part of the International Stabilisation Force (ISF), which is commissioned to serve until 2012.