Subject: Indonesia, E. Timor sign border accord [+Ramos-Horta Interview]

also: Australian: Timor in border pact with Jakarta

The Jakarta Post Thursday, July 1, 2004

Indonesia, East Timor sign border accord

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia and East Timor signed a border agreement on the sidelines of the 37th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) on Wednesday.

Foreign minister Hassan Wirayuda, said that the countries had resolved 90 percent of their land boundary issues, and the remaining problems would be finalized by September.

Next on the agenda is to start talks on the marine borders.

East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta, who is a guest at the AMM and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), expressed his hope that the final agreement could be reached soon.

"Almost in record time, we've been able to reach an almost complete agreement on the land boundaries," Ramos Horta was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

"Hopefully, we will be able to sign the final comprehensive plan in the next few months."

The East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia in a 1999 UN-sponsored ballot, sparking a deadly rampage by pro-Indonesian militias allegedly armed and organized by Indonesia's military.

Hassan said that border negotiations were difficult because of the geographical situation and local customs.

"The problems we are facing are not political but geographical," he was quoted by AP as saying. He added that during the Dutch and Portuguese eras, some of the land borders were based on rivers, and on Timor island the river courses could change quite a lot and some had dried up altogether.

He said that the economic, social and security activities on the border areas would be arranged further.

"That is part of a 'border regime', meaning the activities along the border, be they the human traffic, trade or security. These will be outlined in a separate arrangement," he said.


The Australian July 01, 2004

Timor in border pact with Jakarta

By Sian Powell, Jakarta correspondent

CHAMPAGNE glasses clinked in a jet high above the Timor Sea in 1989 as then Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans toasted his Indonesian counterpart Ali Alatas on the successful conclusion of the Timor Gap border negotiations.

Yesterday, after a hiatus of 15 years that encompassed bloody strife, independence and more bloody strife, East Timor's borders were again the subject of diplomatic agreement.

In the lobby of Indonesia's Department of Foreign Affairs Pancasila building, and without champagne, East Timor's foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta, signed off on a key border agreement with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.

Yet another marker on the road to East Timor's status as a fully independent nation, the agreement covers about 90 per cent of the land borders between East Timor and Indonesia, with the remainder to be determined in coming months.

Five years ago, an estimated 1500 East Timorese were killed during the tiny half-island's bloody struggle for independence from its powerful neighbour.

In Jakarta for ASEAN talks, Mr Ramos Horta hopes East Timor will be admitted to the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting tomorrow, attended by the 10 ASEAN nations and their 13 dialogue partners including the US, China and Australia.

There has been no indication from Indonesia that an invitation is forthcoming, but the border agreement proved relations were amicable, Mr Ramos Horta said.

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