Aust-East Timor conciliation underway


East Timor’s former president Xanana Gusmao says his nation will not rest until it gains it’s full sovereign rights over its seas, including resource-rich zones claimed by Australia.

Speaking at the start of a United Nations Conciliation Commission hearing in The Hague on Monday, Mr Gusmao said East Timor was not seeking “favours or special treatment” but only its rights under international law.

At the hearing Australia will argue that the commission doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear the landmark maritime boundary dispute.

East Timor initiated the first of its kind compulsory conciliation action under the UN convention on the law of the sea after Australia continued to refuse to negotiate a permanent boundary.

Mr Gusmao referred to Australia’s recognition of Indonesian occupation of his country in defiance of UN resolutions before East Timor finally became independent in 2002.

He said a pre-independence agreement between Australia and Indonesia on carving up the Timor Sea, celebrated by officials who drank champagne while flying over that sea “filled us with much sadness”.

Mr Gusmao also referred to claims that Australia had installed listening devices in the offices of the East Timorese cabinet in an apparent bid to listen in on discussions about the ongoing maritime boundary dispute between the two nations.