Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday expressed support for Timor-Leste to become the 11th member of Asean ahead of a meeting with its Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister Dionisio da Costa Babo Soares.
Mr Dionisio, who also met with Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn yesterday, is on a two-day trip to Cambodia aimed at strengthening relations between the two countries and exchanging views on common interests, including Timor-Leste’s application for membership in Asean.
In 2011, Timor-Leste announced its intention to become the 11th member of the Association of South East Asian Nations.
During a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh yesterday before meeting with Mr Dionisio, Mr Hun Sen expressed his strong support for Timor-Leste’s bid to join Asean.
“At the end of this year, a fact-finding working group will visit East-Timor [Timor Leste] to find out whether it is eligible to become an Asean member or not,” Mr Hun Sen said. “For me, I already visited East Timor previously.”
He noted that he had visited Timor Leste in the past and believed the country is eligible to join the regional bloc.
“We are the youngest member of Asean and this year is our 20th anniversary of joining the bloc. We have already hosted two Asean summits,” he added. “East Timor or Timor Leste is eligible to become an Asean member, so please don’t overlook its efforts to develop its human resources just like we and other countries develop ours.”
A statement on Mr Hun Sen’s Facebook page yesterday said that during their meeting, Mr Dionisio expressed his gratitude to Cambodia for supporting Timor-Leste on the international stage.
He also praised Mr Hun Sen’s leadership and his effort to promote the well-being of Cambodian people.
Mr Dionisio also referred to Mr Hun Sen’s trip to Timor-Leste in 2016, saying that Timorese people look upon Cambodians as “brothers”.
“We should join together to push and expand economic, trade, investment, tourism and cultural cooperation,” the statement quoted Mr Hun Sen as saying during the meeting.