Dili – Indonesia's and Timor Leste's military chiefs agreed here on Thursday to step up cooperation between the two countries' armed forces.
The agreement was reached when Indonesian National Defense Forces (TNI) Commander General Djoko Santoso met with his Timor Leste counterpart, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, at the latter's headquarters in Tositolu, Dili.
"The cooperation will cover education, training, capacity building and other things," General Djoko Santoso said.
Djoko said his visit to Timor Leste was significant because it was proof that relations between the two countries were continuously improving.
The Indonesian military chief who came to Timor Leste at General Matan Ruak's invitation was accompanied by a number of high ranking TNI officials including the chief of the Udayana 9th Military Command, Major General Hormangaradja Pandjaitan.
The TNI delegation arrived at Dili's Nicolau Lobato international airport at 9.45am local time aboard a plane from the 17th Squadron based in Bali.
Matan Ruak expressed pleasure and pride about Djoko's visit which proceeded in an atmosphere of warm friendship and brotherhood. It marked the first time for a TNI commander to vist Timor Leste since the former East Timor declared its independence from Indonesia.
Security was tight but people in Dili and from surrounding areas enthusiastically geeted the Indonesian military delegation. A Timor Leste source said the invitation was actually sent to TNI Headquarters a few years ago. "We invited the TNI commander several years ago but it is only now that it could be met," the source said.
General Djoko Santoso was welcomed with a military ceremony at the Timor Leste armed forces headquarters. General Matan Ruak accompanied Djoko throghout the four-hour visit.
"We have agreed the two countries' governments would facilitate various cooperation activities and so an inventory of the needs for it will soon be made," Djoko Santoso said.
To newsmen General Matan Ruak said "the visit is very significant for improving and boosting the relations between the two countries. We were thankful to the Indonesian government as well as our government for the opportunity," he said.
Regarding the cooperation plan General Matan Ruak said that it would also cover cooperation in border areas and capacity building.