East Timor president pushes again on environmental criticism

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Give our nation $100 billion — or cease lecturing us about earning profits from fossil fuels.

That was the message East Timor President and Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos-Horta had Wednesday for these elevating environmental considerations about his nation’s proposal to construct a brand new gas-processing plant.

Ramos-Horta was talking in Australia after the 2 international locations signed a brand new protection settlement. He delivered his remarks on the Nationwide Press Membership in Canberra with humor but in addition with an edge.

East Timor, an impoverished nation of 1.5 million, is hoping to interrupt a 20-year impasse with the brand new Australian authorities over the event of the Better Dawn fuel subject that lies beneath the seabed separating the 2 international locations.

Australia desires the fuel piped to an current fuel hub at its northern metropolis of Darwin. East Timor expects extra financial profit if the fuel is piped to its south coast.

Ramos-Horta was visiting Australia partially to attempt to resolve the dispute. A reporter requested how East Timor might justify the undertaking given the local weather impacts.

Ramos-Horta replied that fuel was cleaner than some fossil fuels. He then listed international locations that had benefitted from fossil fuels, together with the U.S. and Japan, after which later China and India.

“But first the Europeans, you were the ones who polluted the whole world with coal, with oil, and everything that you can imagine,” he stated. “And we, unfortunately, discover oil and gas only now. And the Europeans are lecturing us: We have to move away from fossil fuel.”

He stated the fuel subject might generate $100 billion or extra in income.

“I have no authority to make any proposal, but I can make one off the top of my head,” Ramos-Horta stated. ”The Europeans, Australia, the U.S., give us $100 billion and we surrender on the Better Dawn growth. So simple as that.”

Earlier Wednesday, Australia and East Timor signed a protection settlement aimed toward growing the army and safety cooperation, particularly alongside their shared maritime border.

The settlement goals to extend joint army workout routines and coaching, in addition to cooperation on humanitarian help and catastrophe aid.

“We have been working towards a DCA (defense cooperation agreement) for over a decade and today’s signing is a significant step forward in our partnership,” stated Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The settlement comes at a time of heightened tensions within the area, notably after the Solomon Islands in April signed a brand new safety pact with China.

Requested about his views on the transfer by the Solomon Islands, Ramos-Horta stated he wasn’t that aware of the nation however that the broader area is a “very sensitive strategic location.”

“Any leader that is serious about being a leader, you have to be sensitive to your neighbors,” he stated. “Don’t bring in extraterritorial, regional interests, powers, that might not be welcomed by our neighbors.”

Ramos-Horta shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with East Timorese Bishop Carlos Belo for his or her efforts to finish battle of their homeland.

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