Clinton on rare visit to encourage East Timor
DILI (AFP) - Mrs Hillary Clinton on Thursday became the first United States (US) Secretary of State to visit East Timor, hoping to encourage the growing self-sufficiency in one of the poorest nations in a strategic region.
On the latest stop in a regional tour, Mrs Clinton flew early in the morning into the capital Dili for a one-day trip as smiling schoolchildren lined the streets waving the flags of both East Timor and the United States.
Mrs Clinton's visit comes only a few months after the impoverished nation marked a decade since independence from Indonesia and as United Nations (UN) peacekeepers - deployed during a violent political crisis in 2006 - prepare to leave at the end of the year.
The US has prioritised building ties in Asia, but East Timor's hopes to join the Association of South-east Asian Nations have been clouded by concerns that it is too weak and unstable to enter the group.