The foreign ministers of Indonesia and East Timor have signed a key agreement on their shared border, as part of a series of events during a state visit to Jakarta by leaders from Dili.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who hosted his East Timor counterpart, Zacarias Albano da Costa, at the Foreign Ministry office on Friday, hailed the signing of an annex to a provisional 2005 border agreement as a landmark step toward strengthening ties.
“It is an important moment to further solidify friendly relations between Indonesia and East Timor,” Marty said after the signing ceremony.
“This agreement is aimed at bringing our people even closer together.”
The annex was one of three addenda to the 2005 agreement that had not yet been signed. Da Costa said he was confident the other two addenda would follow soon.
“East Timor hopes that the signing of this one segment today will encourage the two government to solve the remaining segments,” he said.
“But we also have to be reminded that the borders should not become an obstacle for the two governments to cooperate.”
The main border agreement covers approximately 96 percent of the terrestrial border between the two countries in the island of Timor.
The addenda cover the three major sections of the border that until Friday had not been agreed on by the two sides, consisting of two sections in the Oecusse area and one in the Memo area. Border disputes regularly flare up in those areas.
The signing of one of those addenda was formalized later on Friday by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timor President Jose Maria Vasconcelos at the State Palace in Jakarta.
Palace staff said that Vasconcelos, better known as Taur Matan Ruak, who is in Indonesia on a state visit, was scheduled to discuss several issues with Yudhoyono, particularly economic ties, enhancing the strategic partnership between Jakarta and Dili, and Indonesia’s support for East Timor’s bid for membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.