Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo welcomed on Monday Timor-Leste's membership of ASEAN and called for greater cooperation between the two neighboring countries in the future.
Jokowi said in a statement to welcome visiting Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak at the Bogor Palace in West Java that he was happy that the country had in principle joined the regional grouping.
"I am glad that Timor-Leste has in principle been accepted as a member of ASEAN," Jokowi said.
In November, ASEAN agreed in principle to admit Timor-Leste as the group's 11th member. The half-island nation will also be granted observer status at high-level ASEAN meetings, the bloc said after regional leaders met in Phnom Penh for a summit.
President Jose Ramos-Horta has long campaigned for ASEAN membership and an application was first submitted in 2011.
Jokowi also said in his statement that he expected that Indonesia and Timor-Leste could further boost their economic ties.
"In the prime minister's visit today, I expect that we can discuss ways to improve economic ties between the two countries," Jokowi said.
Indonesia has so far invested US$818 million in Timor-Leste, mainly in energy, banking and communications.
The Timor-Leste prime minister is in Jakarta for a state visit, following a visit by Ramos-Horta in July 2022.
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and the then-province of East Timor only gained full independence in 2002 after a long and bloody struggle to end an often brutal occupation.