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ASEAN to Discuss Timor-Leste Membership in December
Mota`ain border gate connecting Indonesia - Timor Leste. TEMPO/Frannoto
Tuesday, 14 November, 2017 | 17:00 WIB
ASEAN to Discuss Timor-Leste Membership in December

TEMPO.CO, JakartaASEAN member states senior officials will hold a meeting in December to discuss Timor-Leste membership.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Director for ASEAN Political and Cooperation Security Chandra Widya Yudha said that ASEAN working group for Timor-Leste will converge in Bali on December 5 on the sidelines of ASEAN leaders meeting with dialogue partners including China, the United States and Russia.

Nikkei reported that Chandra did not specify the plan. But other ASEAN officials said that Indonesia expects Timor-Leste to become a member in the near future.

According to Jose Tavares, Director General of ASEAN Cooperation for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, the association has received the results of independent studies examining political, economy and social-cultural aspects of Timor-Leste ASEAN membership bid.

Timor-Leste submitted a membership status in 2011 when Indonesia led ASEAN. Then Indonesia Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said that the country was geographically part of Southeast Asia and there were only two choices for the bloc: invite the small country to join the association or ignore it.

Other ASEAN member states reacted coldly to the proposal. Singapore has specifically voiced its concerns over the lack of human resources of the country to tackle the economic gap with ASEAN members.

Despite its revenue stream from oil and natural gas, Timor-Leste remains one of Asia-Pacific’s poorest country. An official statistics show that around 40 percent of its citizens live below poverty line.

Timor-Leste, former Portuguese colony, declared its independence in 1975 but was invaded and annexed by Indonesia at the end of the year. Following the results of a referendum in 1999, Timor-Leste declared its independence from Indonesia. The country got its full independence in 2002, two and a half years after being under UN transitional administration.


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