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Yoon meets East Timor leader

June 2, 2023 - 20:01 By Park Jun-hee
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (right) shakes hand with East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta at the presidential office in Seoul on Friday. (Pool photo)

President Yoon Suk Yeol met with East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta on Friday and agreed to upgrade the bilateral ties between the two nations in the fields of development, labor, education and forestry.

Yoon was quoted by his office as saying that he had explained the Korea International Cooperation Agency’s projects in the health, medical and educational field and environmental projects in East Timor. The presidential office added that Yoon has also sought aid and support from the East Timor leader to the agency’s volunteer in the southeast Asian country.

At the meeting, the two leaders exchanged views on South Korea’s efforts to help the Southeast Asian country gain independence from Indonesia in 1999 when South Korea dispatched soldiers, named the Sangnoksu Unit, on a peacekeeping mission in October that year to support East Timor in gaining political independence, according to the Korean presidential office.

President Yoon also congratulated East Timor on getting the nod to join the Association of Southeast Nations as an observer nation. Yoon expressed hopes for East Timor to be admitted as a member state of the bloc to forge ties with Korea, saying that Seoul is stepping up cooperation based on the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative.

East Timor is the youngest country in Southeast Asia, having gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 after 24 years of occupation. Last year, Southeast Asian leaders agreed to pave the way for East Timor to join the 10-nation ASEAN regional bloc.