Indonesia, E. Timor to Discuss Border Security

JAKARTA ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his newly elected East Timor counterpart will discuss border security during talks here next month, an official said this week.

East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta was expected to visit Indonesia in early June, the official said, as the tiny nation seeks to strengthen ties with its powerful neighbor.

“We have yet to finalize the date, but we are preparing to receive him in early June,” presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal told reporters.

Ramos-Horta, who won a landslide election victory last week, said on Saturday that Indonesia would be among his first official visits abroad as president.

The two leaders would attempt to resolve a land border dispute on Timor island as well as discuss strengthening security at their border posts.

“We would like to push for the remaining three percent of the unresolved border to be settled in the near future,” said Djalal.

He said trade and investment would also be on the agenda during the visit.

“Ramos-Horta is a diplomat who has many ideas, so we would like to discuss how we can increase the substance of our bilateral relationship,” he said.

Ramos-Horta won the Nobel Peace Prize for pushing East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesia on the world stage.

The impoverished half-island nation declared independence in 2002 following a bloody separation from its neighbor three years earlier.

Details of the upcoming visit emerged after Indonesia’s military said it would deploy almost 2,000 extra troops along the Timor border in case of “external threats.”

The soldiers would reinforce 1,500 troops already stationed there, regional army commander Major General Saiful Rizal said.

“The army will add two battalions and one infantry brigade of 400 military instructors to the West Timor region to anticipate any external threats,” he told community leaders in West Timor this week.

Each battalion has about 620 troops.

He declined to explain the nature of the threats, but intermittent violence has flared in troubled East Timor since last week’s election.

East Timor erupted in deadly unrest in May last year after 600 army deserters were sacked, prompting the deployment of foreign peacekeepers to try to restore security.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and withdrew in an orgy of killing, blamed partly on the Indonesian military, during its 1999 vote for independence.

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