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East Timor aspires to join ASEAN next year during Indonesia's leadership

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - President of East Timor Jose Ramos-Horta stated on a visit to Indonesia on Tuesday that he hoped to stre...


Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - President of East Timor Jose Ramos-Horta stated on a visit to Indonesia on Tuesday that he hoped to strengthen trade links between the two nations and complete his country's long-running application to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2019.


On his first state visit to neighbouring Indonesia since he was chosen in April for a second term as president, Ramos-Horta had a meeting with his counterpart Joko Widodo.



Timor Leste, popularly known as East Timor, is where he previously held the office of president from 2007 to 2012.



As a member of Southeast Asia, Timor Leste "has fulfilled many of the requirements necessary for a functioning economy and democracy so... will be a productive member of ASEAN," he said, adding that he hoped his young nation could join the organisation when Indonesia takes over the presidency next year.



East Timor now has observer status in ASEAN after submitting their membership application in 2011.



The Indonesian president announced that his nation has spent $818 million in East Timor, primarily in the energy, banking, and communication sectors, while speaking at the presidential residence in Bogor, south of Jakarta.



The two countries have agreed to enhance trade, according to Widodo, often known as Jokowi.



Trade between the two nations last year was estimated to be worth $250 million, according to official Indonesian data.



The 1.3 million-person nation, which is half an island and heavily dependent on oil and gas revenue, has struggled to diversify its economy and lower high rates of poverty.



After a protracted and costly campaign to end an often ruthless occupation, Indonesian troops invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975, and East Timor didn't achieve full independence until 2002.



Ramos-Horta, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent efforts to put an end to the conflict, expressed his appreciation for the expansion of trade links with Jakarta and Indonesia's support of East Timor's membership in the 10-nation ASEAN regional bloc.

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