No talk of military cooperation with China: East Timor

 – Gudstory

No talk of military cooperation with China: East Timor – Gudstory

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President Jose Ramos-Horta says East Timor has not discussed military cooperation with China in upgrading its diplomatic ties, adding that Australia and Indonesia can “sleep peacefully” because the island nation is wary of its neighbours. Security will not be a matter of concern.

China’s growing assertiveness in efforts to build security ties with developing countries near Australia has set off alarm bells in Canberra, and recent changes in Australia’s defense have refocused attention on protecting its northern approaches. .

A comprehensive strategic framework signed by East Timor during a meeting between Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Chinese President Xi Jinping in China last week includes development cooperation in agriculture and infrastructure, the Nobel laureate said in a telephone interview with Reuters. Was.

Ramos-Horta said the agreement also provided East Timor with scope for funding from China, including government and commercial loans.

He said, “At present we do not have a single debt from China.”

“In the future we may request a loan from China…

“We will not accept any unmanageable, unsustainable loans with very high interest payments.”

Some Australian politicians expressed concern after China’s state media reported on Saturday that Beijing’s agreement with East Timor, about 700 km northwest of Australia, also included military exchanges.

China last year signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands, 2,000 km north-east of Australia, raising Canberra’s concerns about Beijing’s naval ambitions.

“It was never discussed in the context of military cooperation – never discussed – and the Chinese side also never raised the issue,” Ramos-Horta said.

East Timor, also known as Timor Leste, aims to join regional bloc ASEAN by 2025 as it seeks to reduce high poverty rates.

He said, “We will never bring any foreign elements into Timor Leste that the rest of ASEAN would view as threatening neutrality or the ASEAN policy of peace and security.”

“Indonesia and Australia, we can include Singapore and Malaysia – they are the countries that are closest to us – may they always sleep peacefully.

“Timor Leste is not going to be a nuisance, a security concern.”

Ramos-Horta said Timor has extensive security cooperation with Australia, which is also its top aid donor, with Canberra providing military and police advisers and patrol boats.

“It’s only with Australia so far,” he said.

China’s support was mainly in infrastructure, including government buildings, finance, agriculture and health, he said.

He said a large delegation of Chinese companies arrived in Dili, the capital of East Timor, on Thursday to continue discussions on potential investments in oil and gas projects.

Ramos-Horta said East Timor’s main focus was to finalize a joint venture agreement with Australian company Woodside Energy for the joint development of the Greater Sunrise gas project.

East Timor wants to start producing natural gas from its Greater Sunrise fields in 2030, which will be vital to the economy of the Southeast Asia island nation.

Australia has appointed an envoy to speed up talks between East Timor and Woodside.

Gusmao’s government wants the gas to be supplied not to Australia, but to East Timor.

Ramos-Horta said food security remains a major issue for East Timor, 22 years after gaining independence from Indonesia.

He said it needed essential investments in irrigation and roads, and providing financial incentives to farmers to “feed their people”.

As one of the world’s most developed agricultural countries, Australia has partnered with European countries and the United States to partner with the United Nations International Agricultural Development Fund to address agricultural challenges posed by climate change for smallholder farmers globally. Money and technology should be provided. , Ramos-Horta said.

At the Global Citizen Festival in New York last week, Ramos-Horta also backed calls for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty backed by six Pacific island countries, which puts pressure on Australia as a major coal exporter.

A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said that its relations with East Timor are “stronger than at any time in the last decade”.

“Australia is proud to be Timor-Leste’s largest development and security partner,” the spokesperson said in a statement.


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