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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    12 September  2012

Timor Leste's Asean bid receives continued support from Indonesia


Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told his Timor Leste counterpart Jose Luis Guterres yesterday that the country would continue with its support for Timor Leste's bid to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) despite Indonesia no longer holding the chair of the 10-nation group.

"We will continue to work hard to help realise Timor Leste's vision to be a member of Asean," Natalegawa said during a joint press conference with Guterres following bilateral talks at the Indonesian Foreign Minister's office.

"Indonesia welcomes the appointment of Roberto Soares as Timor Leste's junior minister for Asean affairs within Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's Cabinet. This move proves Timor Leste’s seriousness to pave the way toward Asean membership."

The two ministers also agreed to boost cooperation between Indonesia and Timor Leste particularly in the economic sector, including trade and investment.
It was Guterres' first visit to Indonesia since the inauguration of Gusmao's Cabinet in August.

"We discussed measures by which to improve the bilateral relations between our nations to a higher level, such as facilitating the state visits of officials from the two countries and enhancing people-to-people contact," Natalegawa said.

The two ministers also discussed student exchanges, possible cooperation between universities in Indonesia and Timor Leste, and the provision of direct flights between the two countries.

Guterres, meanwhile, praised Indonesia's stronger and more influential global and regional position.

"Indonesia has been very active in many forums, such as Asean and G20. Therefore, Timor Leste is committed to improve relations and cooperation with Indonesia," the minister said, adding that he hoped Indonesia would be appointed as a permanent member of the UN Security Council sometime in the future.

The two foreign ministers also discussed plans regarding a tripartite ministerial meeting to involve the foreign ministers of Indonesia, Timor Leste and Australia, to be held on the sidelines of the upcoming 67th UN General Assembly later this month in New York, US.

Guterres also expressed Timor Leste's eagerness to take part in the forthcoming Bali Democracy Forum in November in Bali.

According to Natalegawa, Timor Leste's foreign minister also conveyed a plan to organise the "2012 Tour de Timor", a cycling competition to be held in the former Indonesian province on Sept. 10 to 15.

Timor Leste declared independence from Indonesia in 2002 and has proposed its inclusion as an Asean member since 2007. Its formal application, however, was submitted in 2011 under Indonesia's Asean chairmanship.

Indonesia and Timor Leste have begun working on a economic cooperation framework called "the Regional Integrated Economic Approach".

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