Subject: JP: Inclusion of Australia in Timor Gap talks significant: NGO

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

The Jakarta Post [online] January 2, 2003

Inclusion of Australia in Timor Gap talks significant: NGO

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara (JP): Chairman of the Indonesian working group for the Timor Gap and Ashmore Reef Ferdi Tanoni conveyed here on Thursday his disagreement at the suggestion of some experts to exclude Australia from talks on maritime borders in the Timor Gap area.

"No matter what the reason is, Australia should be involved in the talks on maritime borders in the Timor Gap because the area is located within the triangle of Indonesia, Australia and East Timor," Ferdi told Antara.

Indonesian expert on international maritime law Hasyim Djalal said earlier that the maritime borders at the Timor Gap should be discussed by Indonesia and newly independent East Timor, without having to include Australia.

The senior diplomat of Indonesia's foreign ministry under former minister Ali Alatas, however, did not elaborate on the reasons why Australia should be excluded from the maritime border talks.

Ferdi, who is also chairman of the Care for West Timor Foundation (YPTB), said the inclusion of Australia in the talks was significant as Australia had a profit-sharing agreement with East Timor over the Timor Gap.

Based on the agreement on the sharing of profits from oil reserves in the Timor Sea, Australia gets a 10 percent royalty while East Timor, which separated from Indonesia in 1999 and became an independent state in May 2002, gets the remaining 90 percent.

Ferdi reiterated that the agreement on the Timor Gap, signed in 1989 when East Timor was still an Indonesian province by then Indonesian foreign affairs minister Ali Alatas and then Australian foreign affairs minister Gareth Evans, should be rediscussed by Indonesia, Australia and East Timor.

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