East Timor, Australia set date for new sea border pact

SYDNEY • Australia and East Timor are targeting a September date to agree on a new sea border after tearing up a contentious maritime treaty which cut through lucrative oil and gas fields.

Dili and Canberra have been in dispute over the issue for a decade and last year went to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Both parties and the court issued a joint statement yesterday noting "their commitment to work in good faith towards an agreement on maritime boundaries by the end of the conciliation process in September .

Australia has previously resisted renegotiating a permanent border but, under pressure from the UN, has agreed to enter talks with East Timor, which is desperate to see the Greater Sunrise field, in waters between the two countries, developed.

The existing maritime boundary is aligned with Australia's continental shelf, but East Timor has long argued the border should lie half way between it and Australia - placing much of the Greater Sunrise fields under its control.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'East Timor, Australia set date for new sea border pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe