DILI, 17 february 2022 (TATOLI) The Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Taur Matan Ruak, and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, were committed to preventing illegal fishing in the Timor Sea.
The two Prime Ministers committed to working together to prevent the Timor Sea from being used by illegal fishers, people smugglers, and other transnational criminal actors, said in a statement released on thursday.
Both Prime Ministers expressed their commitment to protecting the Timor Sea via a virtual meeting, held on thursday.
They committed to continuing to deepen cooperation on maritime security, and Prime Minister Morrison confirmed Australia’s commitment to providing two Guardian class patrol boats, the Aitana and Laline, to Timor-Leste in 2023.
The statement said that the two leaders welcomed the work underway to prepare for the delivery of the two vessels, including infrastructure upgrades at Port Hera Naval Base on Timor-Leste’s north coast.
Finalization of the shipbuilding arrangements of the Austal-built and designed Pacific Patrol Boats is underway, with Timor-Leste due to accept two of the 21 vessels in 2023, Defense Connect reported.
In november 2017, Australian former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Timor-Leste’s former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri signed an agreement for the provision of the two new boats to Timor-Leste.
The then Australian Minister for Defense, who is the current Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator Marise Payne said that Australia’s gifting of these vessels will help enhance Timor-Leste’s capability to patrol its maritime borders and protect its natural resources.
The two vessels had been built by Austal for Timor-Leste under the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project, which in total is worth over US$300 million.
The 39.5-meter steel-hulled vessels would be delivered to 13 nations from late 2018 as part of Australia’s US$2 billion commitment to regional maritime security through the Pacific Maritime Security Program, said in Defense Connect.
Journalist: Filomeno Martins
Editor: Rafy Belo