US congratulates Australia and Timor-Leste on Maritime Border Agreement

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The United States of America congratulated the Governments of Australia and Timor-Leste on the signing of the border demarcation agreement, stressing that the understanding shows the importance and effectiveness of the peaceful settlement of disputes between the states.

“The treaty is proof of the effectiveness and importance of resolving disputes peacefully in accordance with international law,” adds the document quoted by Lusa.

Representatives of Timor-Leste and Australia signed a historic treaty on Tuesday ceremony evening at United Nations Headquarters in New York, which for the first time defines the maritime boundaries between the two countries in the Timor Sea, disputed for decades.

The document was signed by the Deputy Minister of the Timorese Prime Minister for the Delimitation of Borders “Agio Pereira” and the Australian Foreign Minister “Julie Bishop” in a ceremony witnessed by the UN Secretary-General “António Guterres”.

Also the chairman of the Conciliation Commission “Peter Taksøe-Jensen” who mediated the negotiations between the two countries that ended at the end of February with this historic agreement was present at the ceremony.

The “Treaty between Australia and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste establishing its maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea”, whose exact contours will only be known, now to place the frontier line in the position defended by Timor-Leste, that is to say, equidistant from both countries, as Dili (Capital of Timor-Leste) has always claimed.

After the signature, the document has now to be ratified by the parliaments of the two countries, and there is no known timetable for this process.

The document results from a test of the instruments of the Law of the Sea, namely the Compulsory Conciliation Procedure and in particular 11 intense business rounds over 19 months, which were supported by a panel of five international experts and the assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The process took place under the “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” (UNCLOS) and began on 11 April 2016, when Timor-Leste notified Australia that it had triggered the Compulsory Conciliation Procedure to force Canberra to sit at the negotiations table to define the permanent maritime borders between the two countries.

The historic “Comprehensive Package Agreement on the central elements of a delimitation of maritime borders between the two countries in the Timor Sea” is reached in Copenhagen on 30 August, when exactly 18 years have passed since the referendum the Timorese voted for independence.

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