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SBY Supports Timor Leste's Admission to ASEAN

Visiting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced that the Indonesian government has not only supported but also raised support for the acceptance of Timor Leste into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"Indonesia has not only supported but also continued to encourage other ASEAN member states to support Timor Leste," President Yudhoyono said during a luncheon at the Nicolau Lobato Presidential Palace in the capital of Timor Leste, Dili, on Tuesday.

Yudhoyono attended the luncheon as part of a series of activities while paying a state visit to Timor Leste.

Also present at the luncheon were Timor Leste President Taur Matan Ruak, Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, former prime minister Mari Alkatiri, and former president Ramos Horta.

The Indonesian leader further praised Timor Leste for recording rapid economic growth. According to the Asian Development Bank, Timor Leste's economy had grown by 8.1 percent in 2013 and is expected to further increase to 8.5 percent this year.

Yudhoyono, who will end his term of office on October 20, 2014, expressed his optimism that the next Indonesian government under the leadership of President-elect Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President-elect Jusuf Kalla will be able to maintain and increase the existing good relations with Timor Leste.

Noting that Timor Leste is a good and important neighbor, he said relations between the two nations has continued to grow well.

President Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono also planted trees on the front yard of the Timor Leste Presidential Palace.

Yudhoyono had arrived at Timor Leste on Monday for a three-day state visit. (antara)