Subject: KY: Indonesia, E. Timor officials meet for talks in Bali

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Indonesia, E. Timor officials meet for talks in Bali

by Christine T. Tjandraningsih

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Feb. 25 (Kyodo) - Representatives of Indonesia and East Timor on Monday met on the resort island of Bali for talks expected to result in the signing of key bilateral agreements.

Hopes are running high that the agreements could be binding on both sides before and after East Timor declares independence on May 20.

Calling it ''the most substantive'' event since the visit of former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid to East Timor in 2000, Sergio Vieirra de Mello, who leads the U.N. Transitional Authority in East Timor, proposed that the validity of the to-be-signed agreements continue after independence.

''I also propose that by the time of the (East Timor) independence, Indonesia and East Timor conclude one umbrella agreement that confirms the validity, so they could be binding on both sides,'' de Mello told representatives of both sides.

Jakarta is represented in the one-day meeting on the beach resort of Nusa Dua by several top Indonesian officials including Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda and Bank Indonesia Director Miranda Goeltom.

The East Timor delegation is headed by Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri, Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs Jose Ramos Horta and other cabinet members.

According to de Mello, among the agreements that will be signed are those ''allowing people from areas close to East and West Timor border to cross in either direction as a matter of routine in their daily well as to establish regulated markets in those border areas.''

He also said there is a need for ''a viable, practical way to use the system of transit for people and goods between the enclave of Oecussi and the other districts of East Timor.''

West Timor, which borders East Timor, is a part of Indonesian territory.

Concerns over illegal entries from both sides have so far become an obstacle for those who want to visit their families living on the other side of the border. The difficulties have also isolated people living in the East Timor enclave of Oecussi in West Timor.

''It could be wonderful if by the time of independence, we could have placed on the ground the first border markers,'' de Mello said.

Meanwhile, Alkatiri stressed that the maritime boundaries between the two countries need to be discussed ''to avoid future disputes.''

Indonesia and East Timor have not reached an agreement on their territorial waters.

Before the independence of East Timor, in a bid to head off foreign intervention from the sea, Indonesia declared that all nearby waters surrounding and between the islands, including around East Timor, in the territory came within its sovereignty.

It has also determined that the country's territorial water limit was 19 kilometers, measured from a straight baseline drawn from the outermost points of the islands.

The Bali meeting is also aimed at discussing the restoration of Indonesian archives missing in East Timor during the violence in September 1999 that followed the U.N.-sanctioned ballot in which an overwhelming majority of East Timorese opted for independence from Indonesia.

The delegates will also discuss the continued access of East Timorese students to Indonesian institutions of higher learning, pensions for East Timorese who used to be civil servants during the Indonesian occupation and the cooperation on banking and currency arrangement.

''As we are all aware, the neighboring relations between the two sides are always multi-dimensional and complex,'' Hassan said.

''Therefore, it is only natural if we expect that various residual issues which are of paramount importance for us are also accorded serious attention and mutual consideration in the future,'' he added.

The one-day meeting will be followed by a trilateral meeting among Indonesia, Australia and East Timor on Tuesday expected to focus on assistance of Indonesia and Australia toward East Timor's transition.

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