President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is slated to make a state visit to Timor Leste to boost economic ties with the country whose bid to join Asean has been continuously supported by Indonesia.
President Yudhoyono is scheduled to attend the inauguration ceremony of Timor Leste President elect Taur Matan Ruak, due to take place on the commemoration of country’s 10th Independence Day on May 20, presidential spokesman for foreign affairs Teuku Faisasyah said on Monday.
According to Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam, the government of Timor Leste will also bestow an honorary “Order of Timor Leste” medal on Yudhoyono during the visit.
Yudhoyono’s last visit to Dili was in April 2005 while Timor Leste prime minister Xanana Gusmao delivered a keynote speech at the second Jakarta International Defense Dialogue in Jakarta (JIDD) on March 21.
Coordinating Economic minister Hatta Rajasa said the aim of the visit would emphasize the strengthening economic relationship with the youngest Southeast Asian country, which used to be part of Indonesia.
“Timor Leste has proposed what it calls ‘integrated economic development’. Part of the concept is the development in the oil and gas sector. Indonesia’s investors will participate in this sector,” Hatta said after meeting with Yudhoyono at the State Palace on Monday.
The minister added that Indonesia had also been targeting to supply materials for Timor Leste’s major airport and seaport as well as for power plant projects.
Timor Leste’s Economy and Development minister Joao Mendez Goncalves made a preliminary visit to Jakarta last week where he met with Hatta at the latter’s office.
“Timor Leste has specially invited us to help supply materials to support their infrastructure projects as well as invest in the oil and gas sector,” Hatta said.
According to him, the government of Timor Leste also expressed appreciation for Indonesia’s assistance in providing capacity building programmes in the fields of cooperatives and small and medium enterprises as well as in environment and banking affairs.
Hatta did not comment when asked if Timor Leste’s offers were part of a “reward” for Indonesia’s persistence in pushing Asean members to accept Timor Leste’s membership.
Besides Indonesia, China has also reportedly been interested in Timor Leste’s lucrative oil and gas reserves. Australia, meanwhile, has enjoyed concessions of petroleum and natural gas resources in waters southeast of Timor Leste, since the latter’s independence from Indonesia in 2002.
Trade volume between Indonesia and Timor Leste in 2011 reached $271 million with the surplus of $220 million on the Indonesian side. The volume has risen by 109.36 percent in the past five years.
Before leaving for Dili, Yudhoyono is scheduled to receive North Korea’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong-nam. Kim will visit Indonesia from May 13 to May 16 under the invitation of Yudhoyono, Faisasyah said.
On May 22, two days after his Dili visit, Yudhoyono is scheduled to stately receive Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, Faisasyah added. This will be the first official visit of a Portuguese state leader to Indonesia.