Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Close neighbors Indonesia and Timor Leste agreed to speed up their negotiations on the remaining land border disputes, following a meeting between President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and visiting Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak at the Bogor Palace on Monday.
"We have agreed to immediately settle the two remaining land border disputes this year, namely the Noel Besi-Citrana and Bijael Sunan-Oben segments," President Jokowi Widodo said when giving a press statement after the bilateral meeting.
The Noel Besi-Citrana segment is on the borders of Kupang city in East Nusa Tenggara and the Oecusse-Ambeno, an exclave territory of the Timor Leste. The Bijael Sunan-Oben segment refers to the disputed borders at the Manusasi village in North Central Timor regency.
"Settling these two land border negotiations is pivotal to kick-start maritime talks, while also giving an impetus for the Oepoli cross-border post development," Jokowi said.
Both countries are planning to step up their discussions on establishing economic zones in the East Nusa Tenggara-Oecusse borders. To give a further boost to the economy at the borders, Jokowi said both countries "have agreed to start the negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty."
Jokowi also talked of Indonesia-Timor Leste's land connectivity, which has improved since the launch of the Dili-Kupang route by the state-owned bus operator Damri in November 2022. However, the neighboring countries still need to work on slashing maritime transport logistic costs for business activities.
A roadmap for Timor Leste's full membership in the ASEAN is currently in the works, according to Jokowi. "The roadmap for [Timor Leste's] full membership is being prepared, led by Indonesia as the current ASEAN chair," Jokowi said.
ASEAN has agreed "in principle" to admit Timor Leste as its eleventh member. ASEAN also granted Timor Leste an observer status, thus enabling the latter to partake in all of the bloc's meetings, including the summit plenaries.
Timor Leste earlier this month made its ASEAN ministerial meeting debut with its top diplomat Adaljiza Magno joining the group's foreign policy talks.