(Adds details, background)
AMSTERDAM Oct 13 Australia and East Timor aim
for an agreement over the disputed maritime boundary in
resource-rich waters between their countries, a court said on
Thursday, signaling a deal could be reached by next September.
Confidential meetings between the two countries have been
"very productive" and would continue next year, the Permanent
Court of Arbitration in The Hague said in a statement.
The court ordered compulsory arbitration in the case last
month after East Timor requested the process against objections
from Australia, which negotiated a revenue sharing agreement
that gave it until 2056 to settle the boundary issue.
Australia played a critical role in East Timor's
independence from Indonesia in 2002 and shortly after that
negotiated the revenue sharing deal for the large Greater
Sunrise oil and gas field. East Timor calls the deal unfair.
"All agreed we should aim to reach agreement within the
timeframe of the conciliation process," the court said,
referring to the compulsory arbitration. That process has a
deadline of Sept. 19, 2017.
"I was very pleased to see a sincere willingness on both
sides to come together in a spirit of cooperation," said Peter
Taksoe-Jensen, who headed the arbitration talks.
"Both sides are to be commended for being willing to move
beyond past differences and work hard to create conditions
conducive to achieving an agreement."
East Timor appealed to the court for the arbitration that
could determine the border through the Greater Sunrise oil and
gas field. It has said that Australian espionage on its
diplomats rendered recent agreements on it flawed.
East Timor says the boundary should fall halfway between it
and Australia, which had argued that defining the border that
way could prompt Indonesia to also seek to shift its sea border
and gain ownership of disputed oil fields.
Greater Sunrise contains an estimated 5.1 trillion cubic
feet of gas and 226 million barrels of condensate, although the
border dispute and low gas prices mean its development is on
(Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Tom Heneghan)