RI, Timor Leste agree to enhance relations
The Jakarta Post
Indonesia and neighboring Timor Leste have agreed to enhance what they deemed 'good relations', as well as shoring up support for Timor Leste's bid for membership of ASEAN, both leaders said on Friday.
Timor Leste President JosÃ© Maria Vasconcelos, popularly known as Taur Matan Ruak, paid his first official visit to Indonesia after he took office last year and met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday at Merdeka Palace.
Yudhoyono told a joint press conference after the meeting that he and Ruak shared the same 'commitment to continue to improve the partnership in the future'.
The meeting also highlighted the border disputes that had been unresolved for years and agreed on one out of three unresolved segments.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa revealed that the one segment was Dilumil/Memo.
'We have two more segments [Bijael Sunan Oben and Noel Besi/Citrana] left with unsettled demarcations on the Indonesia-Timor Leste border and will find a resolution as soon as possible,' he said.
In March, Yudhoyono promised Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who paid a visit to Indonesia, some resolution of the three segments. The two countries have managed to demarcate around 97 percent of the total land border, which spans 268.8 kilometers.
Indonesia annexed Timor Leste (at that time East Timor) in 1975, but lost control of it after a referendum in 1999. Timor Leste formally declared independence in May 2002.
Both countries are also seeking to apply a 'soft' border approach.
'Of course, border demarcation between the two countries will allow the enactment of a 'soft' border regime in border areas,' Marty said.
During the Friday meeting, Indonesia and Timor Leste also agreed to launch three border crossing points: Haekesak/Turiskain-Tunubibi, Builalo-Memo and Haumeniana-Passabe. Both countries also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders.
Yudhoyono also reiterated his full support for Timor Leste's bid to join ASEAN, saying that 'geopolitically and geoeconomically, Timor Leste fits the membership'.
ASEAN is currently studying Timor Leste's application, which was submitted in 2011.
According to Yudhoyono, Jakarta and Dili also agreed to increase cooperation in the sectors of trade, investment, fishery, agriculture, education, forestry and transportation.
Trade between Indonesia and Timor Leste has increased over the last few years. Last year, the trade value reached US$258.8 million, against $221.52 in 2011.
Ruak expressed his appreciation for 'Indonesia's support for Timor Leste's effort to integrate into global communities and for being helpful in developing Timor Leste's economy'.
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