Australia and Portugal have agreed to send troops to East Timor to help deal with the worst violence there since the state gained independence from Indonesia in 1999.

The government of East Timor appealed for help from abroad after riots by disaffected former soldiers who had been sacked from the East Timorese armed forces.

The Foreign Minister, Jusay Ramos Horta, said the foreign troops would be welcome and their arrival would mean that peace negotiations could begin.