ASEAN agrees to admit Timor-Leste ‘in principle’ as 11th member

Phnom Penh, Nov 11 (EFE).- The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries agreed on Friday to admit Timor-Leste “in principle” as the 11th member of the bloc.

In a statement issued from the Cambodian capital during the bloc’s annual summit, which will run until Sunday, the ASEAN partners said they also had agreed to “grant an observer status to Timor-Leste and allow its participation in all ASEAN meetings, including at the Summit plenaries.”

The bloc promised to work with Timorese authorities to allow it to become a full member, including formalizing a “roadmap” to be submitted at next year’s summit.

ASEAN membership has been a longstanding ambition of Timor-Leste, a small island nation southeast of Indonesia.

Colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, it declared independence on Nov. 28, 1975, but the following month it was invaded by Indonesian forces, which remained there until 1999.

That year a referendum was held in which the majority of Timorese voted in favor of independence, which was officially declared in 2002.

ASEAN, founded in 1967, is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. EFE


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