Time for Timor Leste to join ASEAN: Preseident Yudhoyono

30 March, 2011 | Source: The Jakarta Post

At a meeting with Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão on Tuesday, the President said he fully supported the neighboring nation as it seeks to become ASEAN’s 11th member nation.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made his statement after meeting Gusmão, who was in Indonesia for a four-day working visit that will include a trip to Bali on March 25.

“It is time for Timor Leste to be part of ASEAN,” President Yudhoyono said, according to Teuku Faizasyah, the President’s special assistant for international affairs, at a press conference after the meeting.

Teuku said that President Yudhoyono’s statement underscored Jakarta’s full support for Timor Leste to lobby other nations in the region to accept its application to join ASEAN.

Timor Leste declared its independence in May 2002, following a UN-sponsored referendum in 1999 when residents voted in favor of separation from Indonesia.

Indonesia has since helped Timor Leste to develop the infrastructure needed to facilitate its entry into ASEAN.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of five memorandums of understanding related to, among other things, infrastructure, trade and transportation, and a letter of intent on fisheries.

Teuku said that the Indonesian government was interested in investing in its neighbor’s oil and gas sector, as proposed by Timor Leste in the meeting.

“There will be assessment on prospects of oil and gas [investment] in Timor Leste. Indonesia positively hails Timor Leste’s offer to Indonesia to invest,” he said.

Timor Leste officials also discussed a plan to purchase Indonesian-made military equipment.

“Indonesia is ready to provide the export credits to Timor Leste to buy military equipment [from Jakarta],” he said, declining to specify details on the proposed purchases.

The governments also agreed to accelerate negotiations on border issues and to improve border management.

On the Australian proposal to make Timor Leste a regional refugee processing center, Teuku said that the issue would be discussed under the framework of the Bali Process.

“Indonesia has a shared experience in operating a processing center on Galang Island [in Batam] to help UNHCR processing those who are willing to be categorized as refugees, and to find resettlement countries,” he said.

President Yudhoyohono was accompanied by, among others, Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegewa, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad, Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu and State Secretary Sudi Silalahi.

Prime Minister Gusmão’s delegation was comprised of Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa, Economic and Development Minister Joao Goncalves, Infrastructure Minister Pedro Lay da Silva, Tourism, Trade and Industry Minister Gil Alves and the Agriculture and Fishery Minister Mariano Assanami Sabino.

Prime Minister Gusmão is slated to attend the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue, an international defense conference expected to attract officials from 33 countries.

 

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