Subject: AFP: East Timor confident Canberra will recognize Timor Sea rights

East Timor confident Canberra will recognize Timor Sea rights

Sun Aug 29, 5:05 AM ET

JAKARTA (AFP) - East Timor (news - web sites) Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said he is confident Australia will reconize his country's right to more petroleum resources in the Timor Sea.

"I am confident that a solution can be reached that reflects Timor-Leste's rights in the Timor Sea under international law," Alkatiri said in a statement issued in Dili.

Alkatiri expressed hopes border talks set for Canberra on September 20 would be constructive and help work towards a fair and equitable sharing of the rich oil and gas reserves.

East Timor and Australia are currently jointly managing the resources in the sea, over which both countries still have overlapping boundary claims.

Under interim arrangements, East Timor is forecast to earn about four billion US dollars from known reserves. Under a permanent maritime boundary set according to international law, East Timor would be entitled to three times this amount.

Alkatiri also "warmly" welcomed Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's willingness after talks between the two earlier this month to resolve the boundary dispute expeditiously by looking at creative solutions.

"Timor-Leste is committed to establishing international stability and continuity for the exploitation of Timor Sea oil and gas resources," he said.

"This is in the interest of all parties -- the petroleum industry and Timor-Leste, and also our friend and neighbor Australia."

Speaking after a three-day public consultations on laws and model contracts for petroleum exploitation, Alkatiri also said the government was optimistic it would be able to issue a new set of laws and regulations on the development of petroleum resources by the end of the year.

"I believe we will be able to meet our deadline of having the regime in place by Christmas," Alkatiri said.

"The proposed regime is a competitive, transparent and stable model for the development of oil and gas resources," he said without elaborating.

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