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ASEAN officials meet in Cambodia to discuss Timor-Leste’s application for bloc entry

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) — The 2nd Meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group was held here Tuesday to discuss Timor-Leste’s request to become the 11th member of the southeast Asian bloc.

The meeting was chaired by Soeung Rathchavy, a secretary of state at Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, Rathchavy said that Timor-Leste’s human resources shortages are a barrier for the country to join the bloc.

“We, ASEAN, are working to build a community in 2015, so some ASEAN member states are concerned over Timor-Leste’s human resources shortages,” she said.

“In fact, Timor-Leste is a country that does not owe any country because it has a large amount of revenues from oil and gas, but the country has much lack of human resources. This is a difficulty and ASEAN has to consider it thoroughly.”

Timor-Leste submitted a formal application to join ASEAN on March 4, 2011 when Indonesia was the bloc’s chair.

Most of the ASEAN member states including Cambodia have politically announced to support the country’s application to become the 11th member of ASEAN.

Rathchavy said the Timor-Leste’s application will not be put on the table for the ASEAN leaders to consider in the 21st ASEAN Summit in November because the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group needs more time to study the advantages and disadvantages of Timor-Leste’s accession.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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