Subject: RI Inches Closer to Settlement On Border Disputes With East Timor

But see about recent border incursions by the TNI in Oecusse.

The Jakarta Globe

October 13, 2009

Indonesia Inches Closer to Settlement on Border Disputes With East Timor

by Camelia Pasandaran

Indonesia and East Timor are trying to work out disputes over their territory by agreeing on an exact border between the two nations, a government official said on Monday.

"We are now in the process of finalizing border lines between Indonesia and East Timor," said Saut Situmorang, a spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs.

He said a government team was delineating borders along several coordinates based on historical international border agreements.

"As soon as we can set up the border line, we will build border posts which may only be passed legally," Saut said. "The border team should be able to find solutions to the border issues as soon as possible."

East Timor, a former Portugese colony, voted for independence in a UN-sponsored referendum in 1999 after a quarter-century of occupation by Indonesia.

However, the long process of border negotiations between the two countries has resulted in a series of accusations that East Timor was encroaching on Indonesian territory.

For example, Robby J Manoh, a village head on the Indonesian side of the border, has alleged that East Timor has claimed sovereignty over land in a village in Kupang district, West Timor.

"East Timor has claimed sovereignty over Naktuka, which is three kilometers into Indonesia's territory from the border," he was quoted as saying by state news agency Antara.

The two countries have met three times to discuss border issues, but have so far failed to reach an agreement on the Naktuka area. Robby said East Timor had violated "the status quo" agreement by placing 42 families in the area. "They are tightly secured by East Timorese police," he said.

According to Robby, the border runs along the Noel Besi River between Indonesia's Kupang district and East Timor's Oecussi district. An agreement between the Portuguese and Dutch colonial governments in 1904 states that the Noel Besi River belongs to Indonesia.

However, East Timorese have reportedly moved across the river and named the Nonomna canal as the new border.

"An Indonesian military post is only about a kilometer from the canal. Now East Timor claims the canal as the border," Robby said. "We want the government to solve the problem soon so it won't develop into a conflict."

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