Subject: Indonesia, E Timor, Australia to meet on drawing up sea borders

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Indonesia, E Timor, Australia to meet on drawing up sea borders

JAKARTA, Feb 19 (AFP) - Indonesia, its former province East Timor and Australia will hold three-way talks this month to help draw up maritime boundaries among issues, an Indonesian foreign ministry official said Tuesday.

"Indonesia, East Timor and Australia need to sit together to define maritime boundaries of the three countries," the director for international organizations, Marty Natalegawa, told a press briefing.

The meeting, scheduled for February 26 on the resort island of Bali, will be preceded a day earlier by Indonesia-East Timor talks.

Both events will be attended by the chief of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the territory's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta and chief minister Mari Alkatiri.

Indonesia will be represented by Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda.

Natalegawa said the trilateral meeting would also discuss ways in which Indonesia and Australia could help East Timor's transition to full independence on May 20.

"Stability and a smooth process will benefit both Australia and Indonesia," he said.

Natalegawa said the Indonesia-East Timor talks would cover issues such as Indonesian assets -- both state and private -- left in East Timor and pensions for former Indonesian civil servants.

"The meeting is crucial not only because it is conducted at a ministerial level but also because in a short time East Timor will be an independent state," he said.

An arrangement will also be signed to allow direct mail delivery from East Timor to Indonesia and vice versa rather than through a third country, Natalegawa said.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it a year later.

Between 100,000 and 200,000 East Timorese are estimated to have died in the early years of the often brutal occupation, many from starvation or disease.

East Timor voted to break away from Indonesia in a UN-sponsored referendum in August 1999. The vote was preceded and followed by widespread brutality against independence supporters from pro-Jakarta militias supported by the Indonesian army.

The territory is under UN administration in its transition to full independence.


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