US officials visit Timor-Leste as the two nations look to strengthen their relations Featured

Seven US Congressmen met with East Timor Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak in Government building in Dili (29/07) Seven US Congressmen met with East Timor Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak in Government building in Dili (29/07) Photo Tempo timor

By Raimundos Oki & Monty Jacka

Tempotimor (Dili) – United States congressmen have visited Timor-Leste as the two nations look to strengthen their relations across a number of fields

 The visit of seven US officials marks the fifth by American congressmen since the US and Timor-Leste started looking to improve bilateral relations in 2006. 

The delegation was led by David Price from the North Carolina State Democratic Party. 

He was joined by members such as Vern Buchanan (Republican, Florida), Susan Davis (Democrat, California), Gerry Connolly (Democrat, Virginia), David Cicilline (Democrat, Rhode Island), Neal Dunn (Republican, Florida) and John Rutherford (Republican, Florida). 

The American politicians arrived in Dili on Sunday, meeting immediately with former President and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão. On Monday the group met with current President, Arão Noe de Jesus Amaral and then Prime-Minister Taur Matan Ruak. 

After the meeting with the Prime Minister, head of the delegation David Price said they had so far had a wonderful visit and described their conversation with the Prime-Minister as productive and encouraging. 

He added that during their discussion, the Prime Minister explained some of the challenges that Timor-Leste is current facing. 

“We offer our encouragement [to face these challenges] as representatives of the House Democracy Partnership backed up with commissions of US House Representatives,” Mr Price said. 

“We have been here five times, many members, many staff members have come to our country as we work together over the years to understand how to make a parliament that is effective and allows us to share our experiences.'' 

He recognised the 20th anniversary of the independence referendum and the Millennium Challenge as one of the many signs of progress in Timor-Leste, while offering whatever support he could. 

The visit was Congressman Vern Buchanan third trip back to Timor-Leste, who noted the significant progress he has seen since he started visiting. 

“We had good discussions about a lot of issues in terms of commerce and trade and governance with the President and Prime-Minister, Members of Parliament,” Congressman Buchanan said. 

“All of us are very hopeful for the future to keep moving for the next 5-10 years, again with a lot of progress,” he said.

“We are here to strengthen our friendship with Timor-Leste and take that to another level that’s why we are here today and we look forward to working with your country.”

US Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick praised the stength of the US and Timor-Leste’s relationship. 

“We have a very strong relationship in every area … economic, education, agriculture, fishery and the representatives of Congressmen to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC),” Ambassador Fitzpatrick said. 

“So the Timor-Leste government has asked us to consider helping with the renovation of the airport in Baucau to assist with whatever might be needed in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” she said.

Chairman of the Timor-Leste parliament, Arão Noe de Jesus Amaral, said he felt very happy with the US congress visit, with relations between the two countries continuing to strengthen.

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