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Indonesia supports East Timor ASEAN membership bid

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono voiced support Thursday for East Timor’s bid to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, his spokesman said.

“The President has asserted that Indonesia will make diplomatic efforts and ensure that at the right time, East Timor can become a member of ASEAN,” presidential spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said.

Indonesia is the current ASEAN chairman and it was the first time Yudhoyono himself had endorsed the application, although Jakarta’s foreign minister had previously done so.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was occupied by Indonesia for 24 years from 1975, a period marked by widespread human rights abuses.

The impoverished nation gained formal independence in 2002 after winning its freedom in a 1999 UN-backed referendum marred by violence.

“Indonesia fully supports East Timor’s ASEAN membership and will use our term as ASEAN chairman to direct its acceptance,” said Faizasyah said after Yudhoyono met East Timor foreign minister Zacarias da Costa in Jakarta.

Da Costa said his country hoped ASEAN leaders would soon consider the Timorese candidacy, adding that it would represent “a new phase in our history”.

Besides Indonesia, the other ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: The Jakarta Globe