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Gabinete do Primeiro-Ministro

Statement by Timor-Leste Prime Minister on Timor Sea talks

October 27, 2004

The third in an intensive series of talks over the last month between the governments of Timor-Leste and Australia regarding disputed Timor Sea resources ended today without an accord. 

The talks were aimed at achieving a so-called “creative solution” to the Timor Sea dispute – sharing Timor Sea resources and resolving competing Timor-Leste and Australian claims without setting a permanent maritime boundary. 

Under a permanent maritime boundary set according to international law, Timor-Leste would be entitled to three times the revenue to which it is entitled under current interim arrangements. 

Prime Minister Alkatiri stated:  “During these exploratory sessions, we have put a number of possible means of resource sharing on the table for purposes of discussion.  We were willing to be flexible in terms of their implementation.”

“Unfortunately, we were told categorically that none of these possible means of resource sharing could be contemplated.”

The talks followed from the meeting between Ministers Ramos-Horta and Downer on August 11.

“In August, I welcomed Minister Downer’s interest in reaching a creative solution to our dispute, and his recognition of Timor-Leste’s just claims to areas beyond the JPDA.  As I said then, any solution needs to fully reflect Timor-Leste’s sovereign rights in the areas to the East and West of the JPDA.  This means that, in order to resolve the Timor Sea dispute, we will have to find not only a fair means of sharing the upstream revenues from petroleum resources, but will also have to deal fairly with the downstream, meaning petroleum transportation and processing.” 

“We put forward a range of options that would address these various elements of a resolution to our dispute.  What the Australian Government delegation was willing to offer and explore did not come even close to recognizing our sovereign rights in the disputed areas.  We were talking about Timor-Leste participation in the development of the disputed resources; they were talking about money.  We were too far apart to reach agreement.” 

“Although we are seriously disappointed with this week’s outcome, Timor-Leste remains willing to reach a solution to the Timor Sea dispute expeditiously.  Timor-Leste and Australia are neighbours.  We cannot stop negotiating.”

For further information contact: Paul Cleary +670 723 4151; Manuel Mendonça +670 723 4155

The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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