Subject: AFP: East Timor signs historic labour deal with South Korea

Agence France Presse -- English

March 30, 2005 Wednesday 1:51 PM GMT

East Timor signs historic labour deal with South Korea

DILI March 30

Impoverished East Timor on Wednesday signed its first-ever deal to supply labour to another country, striking an agreement to send 200 workers from its large ranks of jobless to South Korea.

Vice Minister of Labour Arsenio Bano described the deal as an opportunity which signalled "good news for unemployed people" in East Timor, which is struggling to find its feet after gaining full independence three years ago.

"This is history for East Timor, because finally, for the first time, we will send people to work in foreign country," he said.

Bano said the 200 would be selected from 700 applicants. No details were available on the nature of the employment.

East Timor remains mired in poverty almost six years after a violence-marred independence vote that led to its separation from Indonesia.

Dili officials say a protracted dispute with Australia on the ownership of an underwater oilfield in the Timor sea is denying the country billions of dollars which would help build an infrastructure and improve living standards.


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