RI, Timor Leste agree to resolve border problems, boost ties
The Jakarta Post
Indonesia and Timor Leste agreed on Wednesday to begin negotiating unresolved land and maritime border issues and enhance bilateral ties, particularly on trade and investment.
The commitment was made during a meeting with President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and Timor Leste Prime Minister Rui Maria de AraÃºjo at the Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta on Wednesday.
The meeting was AraÃºjo's first official visit since he took office in February. AraÃºjo is the country's fifth post-independence prime minister.
'We have agreed that the two remaining unresolved [border] issues are to be resolved by the end of this year,' Jokowi said during a joint press statement after the meeting.
The two issues referred to were Noel Besi-Citrana and Bijael Sunan-Oben land border areas.
'We will also start discussing the maritime boundaries,' Jokowi added. 'I believe this will also be resolved soon.'
According to Jokowi, the two countries agreed to start negotiations on the delimitation of maritime boundaries in the northern area before touching on maritime boundary disputes in the southern area.
Speaking after Jokowi, AraÃºjo said he had instructed Timor Leste's technical team 'to prepare for the initiation of the consultation [for settling the maritime borders] within this year, perhaps before or during the next Joint Border Committee meeting to be held in Dili soon'.
Similarly to its Timorese counterpart, Indonesia's technical team was also ready to engage in discussion over the delimitation of the maritime border areas, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said after the joint press statement.
Jakarta also expressed its commitment to help boost infrastructure development in Timor Leste and to enhance bilateral trade ties.
'Indonesia will maintain its commitment to participate in developing infrastructure and [boost] investment in Timor Leste, and will continue to improve trade ties that are mutually beneficial,' Jokowi said.
AraÃºjo, meanwhile, expressed his appreciation for Indonesia's commitment to enhancing capacity building partnerships and technical assistance, particularly in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, trade and infrastructure, which he deemed consistent with Timor Leste's national development priorities and agenda.
During Wednesday's bilateral talks, which AraÃºjo deemed as 'very productive and constructive', both countries also signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on agricultural cooperation and on technical cooperation in the forestry sector.
'At the bilateral level, I welcome the solid development of cooperation ranging from politics, diplomacy, security and defense, economy, education and sociocultural, which does not only solidify government-to-government and business-to-business relations, but also further strengthens our people-to-people relations,' AraÃºjo said.
The prime minister said that there were currently around 500 Timorese students in Indonesia and about 700 Indonesian citizens residing in Indonesia's former colony.
In its efforts to facilitate the movement of people who reside in the border areas, the two neighboring countries earlier opened all nine border crossing points, as mandated by a 2003 agreement.
Jokowi said AraÃºjo's choice to visit Indonesia as the first country after his Araujo's inauguration indicated the close ties and friendship between the two nations.
Former Timor Leste prime minister Xanana Gusmao, who now serves as investment minister, was among Araujo's entourage.
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