Subject: KY: ASEAN To Consider E.Timor's Request For Observer Status

February 07 , 2002 22:58PM

ASEAN To Consider E.Timor's Request For Observer Status

BANGKOK, Feb. 7 (Bernama-Kyodo) -- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers will likely soon discuss East Timor's application for observer status at the group's annual gathering set for July in Brunei, a Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

Rathakit Manathat told a news conference that the ministers will meet in Phuket, a Thai resort island in the Andaman Sea, on Feb. 20-21 to discuss the application.

Another topic at the meeting could be antiterrorism policy by the 10-member regional group.

Late last year, East Timor's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Ramos-Horta wrote to Brunei's Foreign Minister Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, who currently chairs the ASEAN Standing Committee, seeking observer status for this year's session, Thai officials said.

In July 2000, Thailand hosted the ASEAN ministerial meeting and invited Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and Ramos-Horta to the gathering as guests. The UNTAET administrator and Ramos-Horta were also invited to the group's meeting in Hanoi last July.

Currently, Papua New Guinea is the only observer at ASEAN ministerial meetings held every July.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. East Timor is to become fully independent on May 20.

--BERNAMA-KYODO


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