Timor Leste PM arrives today on 3-day visit

National 1 minute, 33 seconds


TIMOR Leste’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao will touch down in Brunei today on a three-day visit aimed at boosting ties between Southeast Asia’s youngest nation and its ASEAN neighbours.

This will be Gusmao’s first visit to the Sultanate since Timor Leste gained independence from Indonesia in 2002.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam will host a meeting with Gusmao at Istana Nurul Iman this afternoon, followed by an official banquet in the evening

Secretary of State for ASEAN Affairs, Roberto Sarmento de Oliveira Soares, said the visit would demonstrate Timor Leste’s strong desire to explore possible areas of cooperation with Brunei.

“There are certainly a lot of areas that we can develop, but perhaps, at the initial stage, we can look to the potential collaboration in the energy division such as oil and gas, as well as education, tourism, trade and investment,” he said.

Timor Leste’s economy is almost entirely dependent on oil and gas, with 90 per cent of revenue coming from this sector.

Prime Minister Gusmao has visited eight out of 10 ASEAN countries in the past two years, in a bid to firm up support for Timor Leste’s entry into the regional grouping.

Dili lodged its application for a full membership to ASEAN in early 2011, which is currently being reviewed by the Working Group of the ASEAN Coordinating Council.

“For us, our heart, our mind, our culture is part of this region, we are proud to be part of Southeast Asia and we believe that being part of the ASEAN is our destiny as a nation and as a people,” said Foreign Minister Jose Luis Guterres in a previous interview with The Brunei Times.

Timor Leste, a former Portuguese colony of 1.1 million, was occupied by Indonesia for 24 years until it declared independence on May 20, 2002.

The Brunei Times