Subject: BP: Dili seeking Thai help for national capacity-building

Also: Ramos Horta seeks Thai support for Dili's Asean bid

Dili seeking Thai help for national capacity-building

Achara Ashayagachat Bangkok Post 15 October 2002

East Timor has sought Thailand's assistance for national capacity-building before joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, according to visiting Foreign Minister Ramos Horta.

The government and the people of East Timor have expressed their sincere appreciation to Thailand for sending its best generals and troops to join other countries in intervening to stop the bloodshed in Dili since 1999, Mr Horta said after talks with his Thai counterpart.

``We have benefited from Thailand's training assistance and now we are seeking further support [from Thailand] so that we could eventually join Asean,'' said Mr Horta, who arrived on Sunday and leaves Bangkok today.

East Timor, he said, would like to join the Asean Regional Forum to cooperate better with neighbours to ensure peace and stability in the region.

However, the country would not join the regional grouping in the next few years due to economic difficulties and inadequate human resources.

There were two conditions for joining Asean, he said. ``We need to consolidate economic and political institutions and develop strong bilateral ties with Asean members.''

Bilateral ties with Thailand were outstanding and Thailand agreed to provide East Timor with help in capacity-building to train its people with working knowledge in agriculture, fisheries and tourism, Mr Horta said.

East Timor was also working with other countries including Japan, European and Nordic countries, and finding cooperation arrangements to be funded by third countries with Thailand's know-how and expertise, he said.

The two countries were looking forward to opening embassies in Bangkok and Dili, he said.

The two ministers discussed preparations for next month's visit by President Xanana Gusmao.

Mr Horta ended his visit here after paying a courtesy call on Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and being granted an audience with His Majesty the King.

Mr Horta expressed outrage at the terrorist strike in Bali and conveyed profound condolences to the families of all victims in Australia and other countries.

East Timor: Ramos Horta seeks Thai support for Dili's Asean bid

Lusa 14.10.2002

East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta said Monday that he has asked Thailand to support his country`s attempts to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Speaking after a meeting in Bangkok with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, Dili`s top diplomat confirmed that he had asked for Thailand`s backing for Timor`s Asean bid.

Ramos Horta, who had arrived earlier in Bangkok on an official visit, said that Timor`s future membership of the 10-nation regional bloc was "important", particularly in terms of "establishing peace and democracy in the region".

"In spite of this, we still have to take two key steps before we can join Asean. Firstly, we must consolidate our political and economic institutions and then develop better bilateral ties with Asean nations", said Ramos Horta.

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