Timor Leste to join ASEAN in 2017

Kupang, E Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA News) - The Democratic Republic of Timor Leste will become a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2017, the Indonesian Ambassador to ASEAN, Rahmat Pramono, said here on Tuesday.

"In 2011, when Indonesia was the head of the ASEAN, Timor Leste submitted an application to join ASEAN. The ASEAN member countries agreed to conduct a feasibility study of the new country," the ambassador said.

The feasibility study highlighted three pillars to evaluate the qualifications of Timor Leste to become a member of ASEAN. The three pillars are politics and security, economy and socio-culture.

"The politics, security and economy studies have been assessed, while the socio-cultural assessment is expected to be completed by the end of this year," Ambassador Rahmat noted.

In addition, Timor Leste must undertake development of its human resources, in order to boost the economy of the country, he added.

"However, Timor Leste does not need to wait to complete development of its human resources to become a member of ASEAN. This can be done after Timor Leste has joined the big family of the ASEAN," Ambassador Rahmat said.

He added that in the near future, all representatives of ASEAN countries will meet to discuss Timor Leste's joining the regional organization.

Rahmat added that if approved, Timor Leste will become the eleventh member country of ASEAN.

Currently, ASEAN has ten members countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.(*)