Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and Timor-Leste’s President, José Ramos-Horta (Photo: Vivian Balakrishnan’s Facebook)

Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, strengthens bilateral ties with Timor-Leste through the establishment of a resident Embassy and support for ASEAN membership.

In a significant step towards deepening bilateral relations, Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, held a series of important meetings in Dili on July 24, 2023. The Minister called on President José Ramos-Horta, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, Vice Prime Minister Francisco Kalbuadi Lay, and Foreign Minister Bendito dos Santos Freitas, underscoring the warm and longstanding friendship between Singapore and Timor-Leste.

During these meetings, Minister Balakrishnan reaffirmed Singapore’s strong and consistent support for Timor-Leste’s development. Notably, Singapore was among the first nations to contribute significantly to peacekeeping and nation-building efforts in Timor-Leste between 1999 and 2012, deploying over 1,000 personnel and equipment to aid in these endeavors. The Singapore Police Force also played a vital role in assisting the establishment of the East Timor Police Service.

Furthermore, Singapore has been a major foreign investor in Timor-Leste, particularly in areas such as real estate and hospitality. This investment has not only bolstered the economies of both nations but also strengthened their economic ties.

Moreover, at the people-to-people level, Singaporeans have actively contributed to Timor-Leste’s healthcare and education sectors, reflecting the strong bonds of friendship between the two countries.

In light of the shared commitment to bolstering cooperation, Minister Balakrishnan conveyed the exciting news that Singapore will establish a resident Embassy in Dili. This embassy will act as a focal point for expanding bilateral collaboration across various sectors, including trade and investment, tourism, defense, energy, and human resources. This move marks a significant milestone in the history of Singapore-Timor-Leste relations and will undoubtedly pave the way for even closer ties in the future.

Additionally, Minister Balakrishnan emphasized Singapore’s unwavering support for Timor-Leste’s eventual accession to ASEAN. To this end, Singapore will continue to assist Timor-Leste in fulfilling the Roadmap for Full Membership in ASEAN, as adopted by ASEAN leaders in May 2023. The Singapore-Timor-Leste ASEAN Readiness Support (STARS) package, launched in December 2022, demonstrates Singapore’s dedication to aiding Timor-Leste in its journey towards becoming a full-fledged member of the regional organization.

In a positive response to Minister Balakrishnan’s visit and announcements, the Timorese leaders warmly welcomed the prospect of a resident Singaporean Embassy in Dili, recognizing the tremendous potential this holds for further enhancing bilateral cooperation.

Minister Balakrishnan’s meetings in Dili have undoubtedly strengthened the already cordial relations between Singapore and Timor-Leste. As he prepares for further engagements, including meeting Singaporeans in Dili on July 25, the shared optimism and eagerness to foster deeper ties between the two nations are palpable.

The establishment of the Singaporean Embassy in Dili signifies a new chapter in this enduring friendship, promising to open up new avenues of collaboration and friendship for years to come. As Singapore and Timor-Leste continue to build upon their strong foundation of mutual support, the future looks bright for both nations and the region as a whole.

Sourced from Singapore MFA