Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who currently chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said on Wednesday he was “optimistic” that Timor-Leste’s accession would be completed “no later than next year”.
According to the Cambodian newspaper Khmer Times, Hun Sen added that “Timor-Leste’s accession process is progressing well” during the opening ceremony of a summit of ASEAN foreign ministers in the capital, Phnom Penh.
On Tuesday, the same newspaper wrote that the Cambodian leader had also sent a letter to the Timorese Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, expressing his “unwavering support” for Timor-Leste’s accession.
Timor-Leste is currently an observer member of ASEAN, having applied to join the regional body in 2011.
The last ASEAN preliminary assessment mission was in Timor-Leste last month, focusing on economic issues, the Timorese president told Lusa on 18 July.
José Ramos-Horta was speaking before leaving for a visit to Indonesia, which included a meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who takes over the ASEAN presidency in November.
Ramos-Horta said on 22 April that joining ASEAN was an “absolute priority” for Timor-Leste, which would allow it to make a “great leap in its development.
China, which is not part of the regional bloc, “continues to support Timor-Leste’s accession to ASEAN,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on 4 June during a visit to Dili.
On 25 May, the Timorese government authorized the parliament to draft a law on company recovery and insolvency, something that will respond to the “demands of integration in ASEAN and the WTO” (World Trade Organization).