Dili, 9 May 2002


SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello and East Timor Chief Minister Marí Alkatiri today led a delegation to the border town of Tonobibi in Bobonaro district, 100 km west of Dili, to open a new customs post and meet with Indonesian officials from West Timor.

In a speech at the inauguration, the SRSG urged that the border with Indonesia be viewed as a point of communication rather than conflict, adding that the presence of West Timorese officials including UDAYANA Commander Brigadier General Willem da Costa and West Timor Governor Piet Tallo at the ceremony bode well for future relations between East and West Timor.

East Timor’s Minister of Finance Madalena Boavida said at today’s ceremony that customs revenue will be an invaluable source of future income, and that the border post inaugurated in Tonobibi reflects the importance of regulating economic transactions in the border areas.

The customs post, which the East Timorese Border Control System has been developing for some time, will allow East Timorese officials to collect taxes, quarantine goods, handle immigration matters and otherwise regulate trade across the common border.

Today’s ceremony represents a further step in the normalization of relations between East Timor and Indonesia. Over the past two years several working level meetings have taken place with Indonesian officials on wide range of issues. There have also been a number of high-level bilateral meetings, as well as the historical trilateral talks involving East Timor, Indonesia and Australia last February.