Subject: Lusa: Formal Bid Made for Membership in Portuguese-speaking Bloc

20-05-2002 9:54:00 GMT Invalid Hora local. Notícia 3676629

East Timor: Formal Bid Made for Membership in Portuguese-speaking Bloc

East Timor, only hours after gaining its independence, formally requested membership Monday in the seven-nation Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP).

The request was made at Dili's Government Palace by Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta at an "extraordinary" meeting of the CPLP's Council of Ministers.

East Timor will formally join the bloc, which gathers Portuguese- speaking countries on three continents, as its eighth and first Asian member at a CPLP summit set for July in Brazil.

Joining the CPLP foreign ministers at the session in Dili were East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao and the heads of state of Portugal, Mozambique, and Sao Tome and Principe.

Created in 1996, the CPLP currently binds Portugal and Brazil to Lisbon's five former African territories in common efforts to defend and promote the Portuguese language, deepen cultural ties and aid in social and economic develepment.

SAS/ASP -Lusa-

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