Subject: LUSA: PM Alkatiri upbeat on success of oil talks with Australia

07-04-2005 13:26:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-6896123 Temas:

East Timor: PM Alkatiri upbeat on success of oil talks with Australia

Dili, April 7 (Lusa) Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said Thursday that he remains optimistic over negotiations with Australia on the division of oil and gas reserves beneath the Timor Sea due to resume late April in the East Timorese capital.

In comments to Lusa, Alkatiri said although the agenda of the upcoming meeting in Dili was still undefined, the Timorese government felt "a certain optimism", due to what was achieved at the previous round of talks in Canberra.

"Talks are going well and the negotiating climate is substantially different. It can be seen that both parties are making efforts to find common points in their respective positions".

Negotiations on the sea border between the two nations and the carving up of hydrocarbon reserves estimated to be worth over USD 30 billion began in April 2004, but reached stalemate at the end of last year.

Canberra and Dili resumed the stalled talks at the beginning of March in the Australian capital.

The main stumbling block to a deal between Timor and Australia on the splitting of the Timor Sea's vast energy reserves is the positioning if their common maritime border.

Dili wants the frontier situated in the middle of the 600 km of sea separating the two nations, while Canberra advocates the line should be that previously set with Indonesia, which runs as close as 80 km to the Timorese coast.

A Timorese source involved in the negotiations told Lusa that Dili remains committed to continue talks with Canberra, "but without surrendering its rights under international law on the demarcation of sea borders".

The median line between Timor and Australia is recognized by international law as the ocean border between the two states.

EL/CJB.

Lusa

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