Subject: LUSA: ASEAN cracking open club's door for Dili - Ramos Horta

23-06-2003 20:11:00. Notícia nº SIR-5163738 Temas: new destaque4

East Timor: ASEAN cracking open club's door for Dili - Ramos Horta

Macau, June 23 (Lusa) - Dili's foreign minister, José Ramos Horta, said Monday that East Timor would likely be admitted to ASEAN's Regional Forum security structure next year, with hopes of obtaining formal observer's status in ASEAN by 2006.

Ramos Horta, in comments to reporters in Macau, where he is on a five-day visit, said the "crushing majority" of the 23 forum members had supported lifting a "moratorium" on new members at a Phnom Penh meeting last week.

Dili's membership in the regional security forum, an ASEAN spinoff, would likely open the way for East Timor's to join the pivotal, 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc as an observer "in 2005 or 2006", he said, adding that full membership could come within "five or six years".

On Monday, Ramos Horta held talks with Macau's chief executive, Edmund Ho Hau Wah, on promoting bilateral ties and business.

Macau, the Timorese diplomat said, could serve as East Timor's "nerve center" in its search for foreign investment.

Earlier, Ramos Horta announced Dili planned to open an embassy in Beijing, as well as a cultural and economic mission in Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China, that was administered by Portugal until December 1999.

Ramos Horta said Sunday that the opening of the embassy was under discussion with Chinese officials in Dili.

Timor`s Macau mission was a topic of discussion with Ho Hau Wah, whom Ramos Horta invited to visit Dili.

The Macau mission, due to open in 2004, will primarily be geared towards "attracting investment and support and will also project Timorese business opportunities in Hong Kong, Taiwan and East Asia", Ramos Horta said.


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