Subject: RA: Alkatiri says Australia has promised to renegotiate seabed boundary

Radio Australia

TIMOR: Alkatiri says Australia has promised to renegotiate seabed boundary

28/05/2002 20:19:09 | Asia Pacific Programs

Australia's decision not to negotiate maritime boundaries with East Timor has surprised the new republic's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. Opposition East Timor MPs have criticised the Timor Gap oil and gas Treaty, saying the maritime boundaries unfairly favour Australia, particularly the Greater Sunrise area - 80 per cent of which falls within the Australian zone, under the original agreement signed with Indonesia in 1972. Mr Alkatiri says that contrary to Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer's assertion, tax and boundaries have not been sorted out.

Transcript:

ALKATIRI: "No no no no no. This is completely false. I made it clear in Canberra that all this is defined. This is nothing to do with boundaries and we would like to negotiate maritime boundaries in the lunch. Mr Downer responded to me that they are ready to do it."

SNOWDON: Why the confusion then? Why are there different positions? Mr Downer says as recently as a couple of days ago, Australia won't renegotiate. You are saying you have an understanding that he intends to. Why is there this difference of opinion?

ALKATIRI: "He made it clear at the lunch that they are prepared, they are ready to negotiate the maritime boundaries. This is the reality."

SNOWDON: Will negotiations now on maritime boundaries be a waste of time? Do you need to go to the International Court more quickly?

ALKATIRI: "No I think the International Court is really out of the question. Australia has already withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the International Court. This was classified by me at the time as an unfriendly act from the Australian government. Now I'm realising that this act is linked to the maritime boundaries. I hope not. But I'm realising that this is really linked to the maritime boundaries - a way to tighten our hands.

"We are looking to apply international law in the zone and we would like, really to have friendly discussions, friendly negotiations between the two friendly countries. But still business is business. We have to deal with all these things as business."

SNOWDON: But how is that possible now?

ALKATIRI; "I think that we will try again and we will see."

SNOWDON: Do you think that given this latest development that you shouldn't have signed the treaty - that perhaps it was premature, until you got Australia to agree to definite further negotiations?

ALKATIRI: "Not at all, not at all because I still have a lot of instruments to be used even in the treaty itself. I think the signing of this treaty was the right move."

SNOWDON: Do you now expect parliament to ratify it, given the latest development with Australia indicating that it's not interested in negotiating any further beyonf unitisation?

ALKATIRI: "It depends on the clear position of Australia because for sure, if I decided to table it in the parliament it would be ratified. But I only will do it if it really can help me serving in the best way, my people."

SNOWDON: So you might be reconsidering/

ALKATIRI: "I think that it is better to start talkking again with the Australian government and try to know clearly, formally what their position is."

SNOWDON: Can we talk about East Timor as a newly independent country. Do you worry about the future?

ALKATIRI: "Not at all. I'm always an optimistic person. We are going to face a lot of challenges but I do believe that we will overcome."

SNOWDON: On some of the issues facing East Timor from this point I wanted to ask you if you hold quite different views to President Xanana, on the issue of reconciliation with senior militia leaders who led much of the violence in 1999.

ALKATIRI: "The only difference is because I still think there is no reconciliation without justice. Justice for me is a bridge to have real reconciliation. This is the only difference. But it seems to me that President Xanana is beginning already to understand this position - that justice is very important. I'm not against amnesty. That's why the government is preparing now a law of amensty but justice is very important."

Transcripts from programs "AM", "The World Today", "PM", the "7:30 Report" and "Lateline" are created by an independent transcription service. The ABC does not warrant the accuracy of the transcripts. ABC Online users are advised to listen to the audio provided on this page to verify the accuracy of the transcripts.

28/05/2002 20:19:09 | Asia Pacific Programs

http://goasiapacific.com/location/asia/GoAsiaPacificLocationStories_566605.htm


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