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Asean-EU officials agree not to include East Timor issue in declaration draft

Unknown - February 1997

Singapore – Senior officials of the ASEAN-European Union (EU) ended their two-day meeting where they agreed not to include the East Timor issue in the Joint Declaration draft as foreign ministry's Director General for Political Affairs Izhar Ibrahim said on Wednesday in Singapore. He added the meeting still leaves several sensitive issues to be discussed at a foreign ministerial level of the ASEAN and EU.

"There are still several matters that have not been agreed on the senior officials meeting (SOM). The discussion of the Joint Declaration draft has been completed 90 percent," Izhar after the SOM.

The foreign ministers of the ASEAN-EU who will meet in the twelfth forum of AEMM on Thursday and Friday will discuss several sensitive matters such as human rights.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas who arrived in Singapore Wednesday evening will lead the Indonesian delegation.

Izhar said the sensitive issues can not be settled yet because the ASEAN and EU officials can not find a precise formula. "We are waiting for the ministers' decision," he said.

However, the officials' meeting has had progress and they intend to increase cooperation in the future.

On the other side, he said the East Timor issue is not included in the Joint Declaration draft agreed in SOM.

This is because of the cohesiveness of the countries included in the ASEAN who have the same standing in the East Timor case. "ASEAN obviously does not approve it. It is already the decision of the head of states," Izhar said.

About Portugal, one of the EU countries in the meeting, he said the country has not shown an independent standing and the one coming forward is EU with the president this time the Netherlands.

According to him, EU might want the East Timor issue to be skirted in the Joint Declaration, but ASEAN holds on to its refusal since it is irrelevant to the meeting.

Concerning the human rights issues, the EU officials wish to add several words in line with their interests as long as it does not biasing.

While Secretary General of ASEAN Dato Ajit Singh to ANTARA admitted that the ASEAN-EU officials had completed the Joint Declaration draft.

"The ministers will discuss the issues that have not been agreed on. There has not been any guarantee that the East Timor issue will not be included in the declaration," said Ajit Singh.