Subject: AFP: Indonesia, UNTAET form joint border committee

Agence France Presse July 6, 2000, Thursday

Indonesia, UNTAET form joint border committee


The Indonesian government and the UN Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) have agreed in principle to form a joint border committee to delineate the border between the two halves of the island.

The agreement on the need for the committee was reached during two days of talks between representatives from Jakarta and Dili in Surabaya, East Java, which wound up Wednesday, a foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The two delegations have already discussed border issues in two previous meetings held in Bali and Central Java.

The two also agreed to base their border delineation on the border convention between the governments of the Netherlands and Portugal dated October 1, 1904 and related international regulations.

One of the sticking points in the negotiations is a request from the UNTAET to provide for a land corridor to link East Timor with the isolated Oecussi enclave on the northern coast of West Timor.

The spokesman said that Jakarta has rejected the corridor demand as impratical, but that UNTAET had "not objected" to Jakarta's preference for a sea corridor.

The current talks are aimed at preparing the way for a final border agreement between Indonesia and East Timor, when the latter becomes a sovereign state, spokesman Sulaiman Abdulmannan said.

The provisional agreement was likely to be put on paper as a formal working document, he added.

The talks also covered the need to continue scholarships for East Timorese studying at Indonesian universities, pensions for East Timorese who had worked in the Indonesian administration, and other matters including Indonesian assets, archives and culture in East Timor.

The talks will resume in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra in the first week of September.

Indonesian invaded East Timor in 1975 and declared the former Portuguese colony its 27th province the following year.

The United Nations, which did not recognize Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor, organized a ballot on self determination in East Timor in August last year which resulted in an overwhelming vote in favor of independence.

Indonesia relinquished authority over the eastern half of Timor island to the United Nations in October.


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