Asia

Asean agrees in principle to admit East Timor as 11th member


PHNOM PENH – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has agreed in principle to admit East Timor as the group’s 11th member, the bloc said in a statement on Friday (Nov 11).

The half-island nation, officially called Timor Leste, will also be granted observer status at high-level Asean meetings, the bloc said after regional leaders met in Phnom Penh for a summit.

“We… agreed in principle to admit Timor Leste to be the 11th member of Asean,” the statement said, adding that next steps would include a “roadmap for full membership” to be submitted at next year’s summit.

The East Timorese voted for independence from a brutal occupation by neighbouring Indonesia in a 1999 United Nations (UN)-supervised referendum, and the country was officially recognised by the UN in 2002, making it Asia’s youngest democracy.

The resource-rich country of 1.3 million people immediately started the process of accession to Asean, but only formally applied for membership in 2011.

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