Australia, Timor-Leste finalise reciprocal defence deal

The Pacific partners have agreed to ramp-up joint military engagement in the region.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced the signing of a reciprocal Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with Timor-Leste.

The status of forces agreement outlines the reciprocal protections, responsibilities and privileges granted to Australian and Timor-Leste military personnel in each of their respective territories.

This is expected to support a ramp-up in defence and security cooperation, particularly across the maritime domain, while also enhancing interoperability through joint exercises and training, and cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).

The deal — signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles and his counterpart Brigadier General Filomeno da Paixão de Jesus — was struck following a meeting between Prime Minister Albanese and President of Timor-Leste, Dr Jose Ramos-Horta.

President Ramos-Horta met with Prime Minister Albanese as part of a broader diplomatic visit to Australia, hosted by His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor-General of Australia.

Prime Minister Albanese and President Ramos-Horta also discussed shared challenges across security, economic cooperation, labour mobility and skills, and the green economy.

Australia also reaffirmed support for Timor-Leste’s ASEAN membership bid.

“Australia and Timor-Leste share a special relationship as neighbours with a shared history and deep ties,” Prime Minister Albanese said.

“We have been working towards a DCA for over a decade and today’s signing is a significant step forward in our partnership.

“I was pleased to meet with President Ramos-Horta to discuss how we can strengthen cooperation, including Australia’s continued support for Timor-Leste’s development.”

Reflecting on the DCA, Deputy Prime Minister Marles said the deal “heralds a new chapter” in the bilateral relationship.

“We are neighbours with a shared maritime domain, namely the Timor Sea,” he added.

“I look forward to seeing how the DCA will help enable joint maritime patrols between Australia and Timor-Leste.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Penny Wong said the DCA underscores Australia commitments to fostering peace and stability in the region through stronger ties with Pacific partners.

“As a close friend and neighbour, Australia is committed to supporting Timor-Leste’s security and sovereignty, including through our enduring defence cooperation,” she said.

“Australia welcomes this DCA and the opportunity it provides to deepen our close defence and security partnership with Timor-Leste.

“This is a key milestone as we continue working together to maintain a stable, prosperous region.”

Defence Connect


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