Subject: AN: E Timor Wants Early Talks on Maritime Borders w/ RI

E TIMOR WANTS EARLY TALKS ON MARITIME BORDERS WITH RI

December 8, 2003 8:01pm Antara

Jakarta, Dec 8 (ANTARA) - East Timor wishes to hold early talks with Indonesia on their common maritime borders, East Timorese Foreign Minister Ramos Horta said here Monday.

"We have just started talks with Australia but we also hope we can soon start talks on the issue with Indonesia," he said after meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.

"We (Timor Leste and Indonesia) have almost finished talks on our land borders. The talks have gone well and we now would like to continue with talks on maritime borders," he said at a press conference.

Hassan Wirajuda on the occasion said both countries had continued to make various efforts to finish negotiations on the two countries' land borders.

"Until now our discussions have settled 80 percent of the issue," he said.

East Timor which declared its independence in May last year started discussing its maritime borders with Australia last month.

Horta however said he was pessimistic that the issue could be settled in a relatively short time because Australia only wished to discuss the issue twice a year while East Timor actually wanted to discuss it as frequently as possible.

"This means the discussions will run slowly. The two countries however are resolved to settle it," he said.

The two foreign ministers at their meeting discussed bilateral and regional problems, including cooperation between East Timor, Indonesia's eastern regions and northern Australia.

"We used to have an AIDA (Australia-Indonesia Development Area) scheme but problems in its implementation caused it to fail to take off," Hassan said.

He said Indonesia welcomed the idea to expand the economic development program to cover East Timor.

The two foreign ministers also touched on cooperation in the war on terrorism between the two countries during the meeting.

"We have invited Mr Horta to attend a regional conference on terrorism which will be held in Bali on February 4-6," he said.

Regarding the issue of human rights violations allegedly committed by Indonesian military/police after a referendum in East Timor in 1999, Horta said the East Timor government would not take the issue to an international court.

"As foreign minister I will not waste my time and energy to lobby for the holding of an international court on the issue," he said.

During a visit to East Timor by former Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas last September, the East Timorse government clearly indicated its wish 'to bury past wounds" and concentrate on the future.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)


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