Timor-Leste will continue to pursue enhanced cooperation with ASEAN, noting its particular interest to observe meetings of ASEAN sectoral bodies, convene regular workshops and seminars in Timor-Leste on ASEAN activities, and send officers from Timor-Leste to undertake internships at the ASEAN Secretariat. This message was conveyed by the newly appointed Secretary of State for ASEAN Affairs of Timor-Leste, H.E. Dr. Roberto Soares, who paid a courtesy call yesterday to the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, at the ASEAN Secretariat. In the exchange of views with Dr.Surin, Secretary Soares reaffirmed Timor-Leste’s strong commitment to join ASEAN.

In response, the Secretary-General encouraged Timor-Leste to increase its engagement with the ASEAN region, urging Timor-Leste to establish embassies in all ASEAN Member States. Currently Timor-Leste has opened its embassies in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore and Viet Nam.

The Secretary-General also noted that Timor-Leste may increase its cooperation with ASEAN through its role as a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Timor-Leste had in February 2011 applied for membership to ASEAN.The application is currently being considered by the ASEAN Member States.

Dr. Surin further highlighted the importance of the private sector in the economic development of Timor-Leste and the need to attract investments from ASEAN Member States in Timor-Leste.

Touching on recent developments in Timor-Leste, Secretary Soares Highlighted the outcomes of the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections held in March 2012 and June 2012 respectively, which were observed by members of the ASEAN Regional Forum Election Observation Mission. Secretary Soares Emphasised that transparent and credible elections reflect Timor-Leste’s seriousness to move a step ahead in its nation-building process.