Subject: AU: Brooding silence over Timor team

The Weekend Australian

November 29, 2003 Saturday All-round Country Edition

Brooding silence over Timor team

Nigel Wilson, Sian Powell * Jakarta correspondent in Dili

AUSTRALIA has not formally objected to high-profile US academic Peter Galbraith joining East Timor's maritime boundary negotiating team.

Mr Galbraith, regarded as the architect of the Timor Sea Treaty that gives East Timor 90 per cent of government revenues from projects such as Bayu Undan, has a prickly relationship with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer that led to heated confrontations between the two at key stages of the treaty negotiations two years ago.

East Timor wants to negotiate a boundary with Australia that would potentially give it billions of dollars in revenues from such projects as the Laminaria/Corallina oilfield and the proposed Greater Sunrise gas development.

The Timor Sea office attached to the office of East Timor's Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, confirmed yesterday Mr Galbraith was a key member of the team advising the prime minister on how to force Australia into meaningful negotiations on a maritime boundary.

But the office would not confirm East Timor had spread information to international journalists that Australia regarded Mr Galbraith's involvement as "provocative".

Mr Galbraith was most recently with the National War College in Washington and achieved international prominence as US ambassador to Croatia in the 1990s.

A spokesman for Mr Downer said yesterday Australia had no opinion on the composition of East Timor's team.

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