18th September 2017

Chief Negotiator for Maritime Boundaries, H.E. Xanana Gusmão, addressed an audience at the Salve Regina University’s Pell Centre on the 18th of September.

The speaking engagement at the Centre for International Relations and Public Policy in Newport, Rhode Island, took place during a visit to the east coast of the USA that will also take in meetings in and around this year’s United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

The Chief Negotiator spoke with fondness of the connection between Rhode Island and Timor-Leste, recognizing the role played by the Island’s colleges and Portuguese-American Community in making the military occupation of Timor-Leste between 1975 and 1999 a national issue in the USA.

Gusmão recalled Senator Claiborne Pell, whose legacy is honoured by the Centre, as one who “again and again, stood up when so few were willing and advocated for the United States to do more, to push more, to lead more, to ensure and end to the occupation of Timor-Leste and the restoration of Independence.”

In his opening remarks preceding a panel discussion, Mr. Gusmão said he valued “thoughtful discussion in a complicated world – not a Cold War World, where the choice is between two ideologies, but a world where more and more the dividing lines and the choices are between successful states, and failing states, stability and chaos, the rule of law versus the rule of force.”

Gusmão’s remarks focused on the importance of multilateral institutions and the force of international law, the progress in ending Timor-Leste’s maritime boundary dispute with Australia in a United Nations Conciliation process, the challenges that his country faces in providing sufficient “food, education, health care and jobs” for its young population and the importance of economic independence.

He noted that “as Timor-Leste and Australia come closer to an historic agreement I believe we offer renewed proof that the international architecture still functions.”

The Chief Negotiator was introduced by Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, a great friend of Timor, who met with Gusmão when he was a political prisoner in Indonesia. Also present were steadfast Timor supporters Representative Tony Cabral and Senator Marc Pacheco, along with President of the University Sister Jane Gerety, and panelists General John Castellaw, Professors David Bosco and Kristin Johnson, Jonathan Stivers and John Watts.

Image: H.E. Xanana Gusmão with Senator Jack Reed