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The family is growing; ASEAN willing to welcome East Timor

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has agreed in principle to admit East Timor, also known as Timor Leste, as its 11th member.
by RepublicAsia

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has agreed in principle to admit East Timor, also known as Timor Leste, as its 11th member.

The regional bloc, composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, also granted Timor Leste observer status at high-level ASEAN meetings. 

“[We agreed] to formalize an objective criteria-based Roadmap for Timor-Leste’s full membership including based on the milestone identified in the reports of the Fact-Finding Missions conducted by the three ASEAN Community pillars, and tasked the ASEAN Coordinating Council to formulate the Roadmap and report to the 42nd ASEAN Summit for adoption,” the group said in a statement.

Why is this important 

The addition of a new member to the regional bloc means there will be more countries in the region that will be working together to address mutual issues of concern. 

ASEAN members conduct enhanced consultations on matters affecting the common interests of the bloc, and have a shared commitment and collective responsibility in enhancing regional peace, security and prosperity. 

They are also moving toward economic integration.

What’s next for East Timor

The ASEAN also agreed that all member states and external parties shall fully support Timor-Leste to “achieve the milestones through the vision of capacity building assistance and any other necessary and relevant support for its full membership in ASEAN”.

The group issued the remarks as the 10 nations group started its 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits and Related Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

On Wednesday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. departed for Cambodia, which is this year’s ASEAN summit chair, to participate in the annual summit.

The regional bloc was formed by five founding member states in 1967 — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. 

Brunei was added to the circle in 1984. Vietnam joined in 1995, then Myanmar and Laos in 1997. Cambodia was the last country to join ASEAN, in 1999.

East Timor, one of the world’s newest nations and home to at least 1.37 million people, gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002 through a historic referendum.

It officially applied for ASEAN membership in 2011.

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