Subject: Jakarta to discuss Timor Gap with Australia, E.Timor

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Jakarta to discuss Timor Gap with Australia, E.Timor

JAKARTA, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Indonesia said on Friday it wanted to discuss the Timor Gap sea boundary with Australia and East Timor later this month, as part of efforts to end the often troubled relationship over the mineral-rich area.

Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda said the border was still temporary there but a permanent demarcation line had to be found to clear any uncertainty.

"We need to discuss bilaterally with East Timor and also with Australia on February 25," Wirayuda told reporters after meeting with President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

"The President has given a strong message that we have to conclude our border problem with all neighbouring countries, including land borders and sea borders," he added.

Australia jointly manages the Timor Gap with East Timor, after the tiny territory voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999.

The Gap is believed to be rich in oil and natural gas with Australia saying last year the future of the Timor sea development was the "economic salvation" of East Timor.

But several oil and gas companies have threatened to stop exploration of the area because of complex diplomatic, tax and legal obstacles resulting from confusion over the sea boundary and the fact previous Timor Gap pacts with Indonesia had to be renegotiated after the 1999 independence vote.

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