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Bilateral relations with Timor-Leste

As Australia's Foreign Policy White Paper highlights, a strong and prosperous Timor-Leste is of fundamental importance to Australia. As close neighbours and friends, Australia and Timor-Leste have a deep and enduring bilateral relationship. Our relationship is based on support for Timor-Leste's development, strong security and defence ties and close people-to-people links.

Australia is fully committed to supporting the independence, sovereignty and economic sustainability of Timor-Leste. We are Timor-Leste's leading development assistance partner (estimated $105.7 million in total ODA in 2022-23) and we support Timor-Leste's objective of economic diversification and private sector growth through our development cooperation and labour mobility schemes.

Australia has provided comprehensive support to Timor-Leste's COVID-19 response and economic recovery. We have drawn upon existing partnerships and investments, while deploying new resources, to support Timor-Leste's response across a range of sectors.

Australia provides support to Timor-Leste's armed forces and national police. We also cooperate closely on regional security issues, including maritime security, border security and transnational crime.

Australia's people-to-people links with Timor-Leste are strong, founded on decades of engagement with one of our closest neighbours.

The bilateral relationship is maintained through regular, high-level engagement by Australian and Timorese ministers, Members of Parliament and officials.

Recent high-level engagement has included:

  • a visit to Australia by the Foreign Minister Magno from 9-16 February 2022, including a meeting with then Foreign Minister Payne at which they signed the first bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme
  • a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak on 17 February 2022 at which they agreed a Joint Statement
  • a visit by to Dili by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in August 2019 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Popular Consultation; and
  • a visit to Dili by the former Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds and former Minister for Veterans Affairs Darren Chester in September 2019 for the 20th anniversary of the arrival in Timor-Leste of the Australian-led International Force for East Timor (INTERFET).

Since the onset of COVID-19, Australian ministers and the Prime Minister have continued to engage the Government of Timor-Leste through phone calls with their counterparts.

Revitalised bilateral partnership

On 30 July 2018 Australia and Timor-Leste signed a joint communique on a revitalised bilateral partnership. This communique commits Australia and Timor-Leste to a new chapter in bilateral relations.

Areas of deepened cooperation include trade, investment and economic links, seasonal workers, maritime security and Timor-Leste's socio-economic development.

The revitalised partnership focuses not only on close bilateral cooperation but on working together in the Indo-Pacific region and globally. The two countries agreed to increase consultation and cooperation in regional and international forums. Australia also reiterated its support for Timor-Leste's efforts to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Australia and Timor-Leste also agreed to continue constructive discussions on the development of the Greater Sunrise resource, noting its importance for Timor-Leste's prosperity.

Visit to Timor-Leste by then Prime Minister Morrison and then Foreign Minister Payne

On 30-31 August 2019 then Prime Minister Scott Morrison and then Foreign Minister Marise Payne visited Dili to participate in Timor-Leste's commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the Popular Consultation that led to Timor-Leste's independence. This was the first visit by an Australian Prime Minister to Timor-Leste in more than a decade.

During the visit, the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak exchanged diplomatic notes that brought into force our historic Maritime Boundary Treaty.

The Prime Minister also announced Australia's support for the completion of a Front-End Engineering Design of an undersea internet cable linking Australia and Timor-Leste.

Recent media statements

Travel information

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Embassies and consulates




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Timor-Leste Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • Address:
    R.G. Casey Building
    John McEwen Crescent
    Barton ACT 0221
  • Telephone: (02) 6261 1111
  • Fax: (02) 6261 1743
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