Australia and Timor-Leste inked Defence Agreement

BYYasir Rehman


Amid rising competition in already tense Indo-Pacific region, Australia and Timor-Leste Wednesday signed Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA).

Defence Minister Richard Marles and his Timorese counterpart inked the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in Canberra in the presence of Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The DCA will allow Australia and Timor-Leste to increase defence and security cooperation, especially in the maritime domain, given our shared border and adjacent maritime zones.

The agreement sets out a framework for the activities of both nations’ militaries in each other’s countries, and aims to increase the countries’ armed forces working together including on exercising, training and humanitarian assistance.

It will enhance our ability to operate together as required, conduct exercises and training, and cooperate on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Earlier President Ramos-Horta met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and discussed security, economic cooperation, labour mobility and skills and Australian support for East Timor’s ASEAN membership bid.

It will enhance our ability to operate together as required, conduct exercises and training, and cooperate on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“We have been working towards a DCA for over a decade and today’s signing is a significant step forward in our partnership”, Prime Minister Albanese said.

He also assured President Ramos-Horta on Australia’s continued support for Timor-Leste’s development.

Defence Minister Richard Marles termed the signing of the DCA a new chapter in Australia’s close relationship with Timor-Leste and hoped that this agreement will enable joint maritime patrols between Australia and Timor-Leste.”

Dr Ramos-Horta also met with Foreign Minister Penny Wong at Parliament House earlier on Wednesday.

Senator Wong met with President Ramos last week during her visit to Timor-Leste

Penny Wong visited East Timor’s capital Dili last week to discuss diversifying the economy, including resolving a dispute over the location of a gas processing hub.

The Greater Sunrise gas field is located in the Timor Sea, off the northwest coast of Australia. East Timor is entitled to at least 70 per cent of the royalties from the field, estimated to have more than $70 billion in resource value.

Timor-Leste controls almost 57 per cent of the field. Australian energy company Woodside controls 33 per cent and Japan’s Osaka Gas 10 per cent.

Woodside’s preferred option is the already established hub in Darwin, but Timor wants the gas piped to a new site on its southern coast.

Due to ongoing stalmete over the issue, Dr Ramos-Horta had threatened his government will turn to China to fund the project if the stalemate remains.

Senator Wong assured Dr Ramos that as a close friend and neighbour, Australia is committed to supporting Timor-Leste’s security and sovereignty, including through our enduring defence cooperation.

It is yet not clear that the two sides made any progress to resolve the dispute.

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