Thai PM meets Timor-Leste foreign minister to strengthen ties


BANGKOK, Feb 8 — Visiting Timor-Leste Foreign Minister Zacarius Albano da Costa on Tuesday paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Government House to discuss bilateral cooperation and strengthen ties between the two countries.

Mr da Costa, who visited Thailand as a guest of the Thai Foreign Ministry, told Ms Yingluck that his government thanks Thailand for its support since Timor-Leste’s independence in 2002 and that his country intends to foster bilateral relations with Thailand.

He asked Thailand for support to prepare for Timor-Leste’s accession to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the hope that Timor-Leste would become part of the ASEAN family soon.

He also invited representatives from Thailand to attend the Timor-Leste Independence celebration on May 20.

Meanwhile, Ms Yingluck invited Timor-Leste to send delegates to the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok during May 31-June 1.

She also thanked the country for its support during Thailand’s flood crisis last year.

Mr da Costa earlier met with Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul at the Foreign Ministry to discuss bilateral cooperation, particularly on technical cooperation between the two countries.

He also sought advice from Thailand on its planned membership in ASEAN as Thailand has supported Timor-Leste to join the regional bloc.

During the talks, the ministers discussed expanding bilateral cooperation as Thailand continues to provide human resources development assistance to Timor-Leste.

Mr Surapong proposed holding the 1st Annual Consultation Meeting on Technical Cooperation later this year to review and follow up the mid-term progress under a 3-year plan of cooperation in the fields of agriculture, fisheries and public health.

The Thai foreign minister also invited Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão to attend the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit to be held in Thailand in May.

Thailand and Timor-Leste established diplomatic relations on May 20, 2002. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Thailand and Timor-Leste have enjoyed close and cordial relations, spurred in part by Thailand’s development diplomacy through technical cooperation under the Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA).

Thailand also continues to dispatch military and police officers to the UN mission in Timor-Leste.  In 2011, the volume of bilateral trade reached US$16.07 million.