Indonesia, Portugal agree to jointly help Timor Leste development

Lisbon (ANTARA News) - The governments of Indonesia and Portugal have agreed to cooperate in assisting in the development of Timor Leste.

"We discussed the possibility of cooperation with Portugal, Indonesia and Timor Leste. We can do much to help Timor Leste in the fields of democracy and economy," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said during a joint press conference with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva at the Portuguese Presidential Palacio de Belem here on Friday.

President Yudhoyono said that with this assistance, Timor Leste, is expected to benefit from the cooperation.

In the meantime, President Silva said Indonesia, Portugal and Timor Leste have good relations.

"That can explain how Timor Leste can be assisted in developing its economy," he said.

The one-hour meeting between the two heads of state included discussions on various matters relating to cooperation, particularly after the two countries normalized relations in 1999.

"I am convinced that with the current visit, we can find cooperation opportunities in the future. I agreed to cooperate in the economic field. We also have potentials to increase cooperation in the maritime and fisheries sectors," President Yudhoyono said.

President Yudhoyono also touched on the efforts of both nations to increase people-to-people contacts through, among others, cultural and tourism sectors.

"We can also increase cooperation in the people-to-people relations and news agency cooperation. We also agreed to increase cooperation at the ASEAN and European Union levels," Yudhoyono added.

After the meeting with Silva, Yudhoyono will proceed to the official residence of Prime Minister Coelho for a meeting and lunch reception to honor the Indonesian head of state.

In the afternoon, Yudhoyono will meet Portuguese House Speaker Maria Assuncao Esteves in the Parliament building.

Lisbon Mayor Antonio Costa is planning to give the key to Lisbon to Yudhoyono to symbolize the friendship between Portugal and Indonesia.

In the evening, President Silva and First lady Maria Cavaco Silva will host a state banquet for President Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono.

The ongoing state visit to Portugal is the second visit for an Indonesian president, after President Soekarno�s trip in 1960. Indonesia and Portugal established diplomatic relations in 1950.

In 1999, Indonesia and Portugal resumed diplomatic ties after resolving the East Timor issues. East Timor was a Portuguese colony for more than 450 years.

East Timor, which comprised the eastern half of Indonesias island of Timor, located in East Nusa Tenggara Province, merged into Indonesia in 1975.

Later, on August 30, 1999, in a UN-sponsored referendum, a majority of East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia. Following a UN-administered transition period, East Timor was internationally recognized as an independent nation on May 20, 2002.

The bilateral relations between Portugal and Indonesia have been strengthened during the administration of Yudhoyono and two-way trade between Indonesia and East Timor reached US$200 million.(*)