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Scott Morrison Phones in Covid-19 Solidarity with PM Taur

Scott Morrison Phones in Covid-19 Solidarity with PM Taur

Australia's Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, meeting PM Taur Matan Ruak in Dili last August (Image/GPM)

DILI, 27 April, 2020 (TATOLI) – Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak has discussed the Covid-19 crisis during a phone conversation with Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

Timor’s prime minister confirmed the conversation took place last Friday, lasting 12 minutes, reiterating the “support and solidarity” from Australia during the pandemic.

“For his part, Prime Minister [Taur] was very grateful for the Australian Government and people’s support and solidarity, even if Australia is also facing problems with COVID-19,” Taur Matan Ruak’s office wrote in a press release.

Both men swapped sympathies for the economic and health crises they face because of the pandemic, with both countries keen to “continue strengthening their cooperation” in the near future, the statement read.

The southern neighbour has allocated some AUD $10 million (USD $6.1m) in funding to support Timor-Leste’s fight against Covid-19, as well as in-kind support such as at the National Laboratory in Dili.

“Australia is ready to help Timor-Leste with a few more medical equipment and laboratory specialists,” PM Taur wrote.

The Royal Darwin Hospital has been supporting Timor’s Ministry of Health by verifying its Covid-19 test results, with some 597 samples processed so far.

Mr Matan Ruak also formally apologised to his counterpart for having to postpone a planned trip to Australia because of the pandemic. He had been due to visit this month; however, he promised Mr Morrison he would reschedule the visit.

Relations between the two countries have improved since ratifying a new maritime boundary treaty in August last year, which had been a source of long-standing tension.

Dili’s government palace (Image/supplied)

After the Timor-Leste government learned that Australian intelligence agents had spied on the the cabinet room of Dili’s Palacio do Governo during sensitive oil negotiations, the country took Australia to the International Court of Justice, alleging serious breaches of law. The case was later withdrawn, and a new boundary line struck.

Australia remains by far Timor-Leste’s largest international aid donor, giving more than AUD $100 million (USD $61.1 m) in 2018-19.

Journalist: Florencio Miranda Ximenes

Editors: Robert Baird, Julia Chatarina

Translation: Nelia Borges

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