Thursday, July 14, 2005

E. Timor to become member of ASEAN Regional Forum

(Kyodo) _ East Timor will become a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum, a regional security forum, later this month, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Nelson Santos, secretary general of the ministry, said East Timor would take up a seat as the 25th member of the ARF when Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta attends the annual ARF meeting in the Lao capital Vientiane on July 26.

Since East Timor gained independence in 2002, the ASEAN Standing Committee has invited East Timor to the opening and closing ceremonies of the annual ARF meeting, Asia's largest security forum.

Santos expressed gratitude to countries, particularly its neighbor Indonesia, that spearheaded East Timor's campaign to join the ARF and also to other ASEAN countries that supported East Timor's bid to become an ARF member.

"It is very important because geographically East Timor is part of ASEAN, which implies that all other ASEAN countries now accept East Timor as part of the region. Also, it's important for us to gain our goal one day of becoming a member of ASEAN," he said.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The ARF members include the 10 ASEAN members plus Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.


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