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


Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed “in principle” to admit Timor-Leste as the 11th member-state of the 10-man regional bloc.


The ASEAN leaders announced their decision on Timor-Leste’s membership bid during a gathering in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits and Related Summits on Friday.


“We, the Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations …, agreed in principle to admit Timor-Leste to be the 11th member of ASEAN,” the joint statement read.


The Southeast Asian leaders also granted Timor-Leste an “observer status”, allowing its participation in all Asean meetings, including the summit plenaries.


They also tasked the ASEAN Coordinating Council to formulate an “objective, criteria-based roadmap” for Timor-Leste’s full membership and submit it during the 42nd edition of the Summit in 2023 for adoption.


“All ASEAN Member States and external partners shall fully support Timor-Leste to achieve the milestones through the provision of capacity building assistance and any other necessary and relevant support for its full membership in ASEAN,” the joint statement read.


The approval came more than a decade since Timor-Leste applied to be part of the regional organization, taking into consideration the outcomes of the fact-finding missions conducted by the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.


Timor-Leste gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 and officially applied for ASEAN membership in 2011.


The current ASEAN member-states are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.


Cambodia, this year’s chair of the Asean, was the last nation admitted as the regional bloc’s member-state in 1999.

Source: Philippines News Agency