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Indonesia and East Timor Sign Common-Border Agreement - 2004-06-30

Indonesia and its former province of East Timor have signed an accord to mark their border, just two years after independence.

The foreign ministers from East Timor and Indonesia signed the border demarcation agreement Wednesday in Jakarta, where The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was meeting.

The agreement comes five years after East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in a violence-plagued United Nations referendum.

The deal sets 90 percent of the border and both countries expect the remaining division to be worked out in the next few months.

The accord is expected to improve security and reduce smuggling between East Timor and Indonesia-held West Timor.

Hadi Soesastro, Executive Director for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, says this is a positive step in bilateral relations.

It is important in the sense that we do need to have a clear border line,? he said. ?And it's something that needs to be done?to prevent future problems. What people have been afraid of in the past, is that Indonesia is going to put a lot of its troops along these borders. But that is not happening. I think the borders are quite open.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 shortly after colonial power Portugal withdrew.

East Timor struggled for independence until it was granted the right of self-determination in a U.N.-sponsored ballot in 1999.

East Timor became an independent state in 2002.