Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed joy that Timor Leste had, in principle, been accepted as a member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

"I am happy that Timor Leste has been accepted as a member of ASEAN in principle," President Widodo said on Monday at the Bogor Presidential Palace, where he had a bilateral meeting with Timor Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak.

Jokowi welcomed Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak and his delegations, and said that last July, he had also received a visit from President of Timor Leste Ramos Horta.

Jokowi is upbeat that the Timor Leste leader's visit demonstrates the commitment to continue to intensify relations and cooperation between Indonesia and Timor Leste.

ASEAN in November last year finally agreed in principle to admit Timor Leste as its 11th member but it's full membership is still pending. Timor Leste applied for a membership of the regional organization on March 4, 2011.

Timor Leste has also been granted observer status, which allows it to participate in all ASEAN's meetings, including the foreign ministers's meeting it just attended in early February in Jakarta.

A road map to the country's full membership is expected to be submitted in 2023 ASEAN summit, according to the organization.

ASEAN, which was established in 1967, currently has 10 full member states, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Welcoming Ceremony

Before the bilateral meeting attended by ministers of the two countries, President Jokowi also invited Taur Matan Ruak to plant a sandalwood tree in the backyard of the Bogor Presidential Palace.

This activity is always conducted by the president every time he welcomes leaders of friendly countries.

Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste Taur Matan Ruak arrived at the Bogor Palace, at around 9.55 a.m. local time, accompanied by cavalry.

When the motorcade entered the Bogor Palace area, troops in traditional attire and Marching Bands of the Presidential Guard (Paspampres) welcomed the arrival of PM Taur Matan Ruak and the Timor Leste delegation.

They were welcomed on the front lawn of the Bogor Presidential Palace by President Joko Widodo and ministers of the Indonesia Onward Cabinet.

The ministers included Minister of State Secretariat Pratikno, Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, Minister of Investment Bahlil Lahadalia, and Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang.

Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Nadiem Makarim, as well as a delegation from the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste were also present.

President Jokowi and PM Taur Matan then listened to the national anthems of the two countries.

President Jokowi thereafter invited the prime minister to fill out the guest book and enter the Veranda Room.

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Translator: Rangga Pandu Asmara Jingga, Katriana
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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