Subject: LUSA: FM Ramos Horta charges Australia stalling on maritime border talks

13-04-2004 13:43:00 GMT . Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-5956926 Temas:

East Timor: FM Ramos Horta charges Australia stalling on maritime border talks

Maputo, April 13 (Lusa) - East Timor's foreign minister, José Ramos Horta, has accused Australia of delaying negotiations to demarcate the two countries' maritime borders in order to drain oil- and natural gas-riches from the Sea of Timor.

Ramos Horta, speaking in the Mozambican capital Monday, said Canberra was resisting Dili's demands that negotiating rounds take place monthly, instead insisting on summit talks every six months.

A first round of negotiations is scheduled for April 19 in Dili.

"The longer the negotiations take, the better" for Australia, Ramos Horta said.

"Maybe when the gas and oil come to an end, Australia will want to negotiate", he added.

Ramos Horta reiterated Dili's claims that if Canberra accepted a "median line" for the maritime border, as stipulated by international law, "East Timor would today be like Kuwait", the oil-rich Gulf emirate.

His comments came at the start of his four-day visit to Mozambique, where he will sign bilateral cooperation accords and prepare President Xanana Gusmão's visit to Maputo in July.

Ramos Horta announced that Dili, which currently has only seven diplomatic missions abroad, would open four new embassies this year in Mozambique, China, Japan and Thailand.

LAS/MMT/SAS Lusa

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