The next round of
talks between East Timor and Australia over the Timor Sea oil and gas
riches begins on Wednesday in Sydney – just in time to be buried in the
post-budget avalanche. Foreign Minister Lord Downer hopes the talks
will tie up the loose ends to the creative solutions proposed by his
East Timorese counterpart Jose Ramos-Horta.

Under the proposal,
East Timor will forgo its claim to maritime boundary for 99 years, in
return for a one-off additional payment of not more than $5 billion
from the revenue of Greater Sunrise. Both Downer and Horta hope the
talks can be finalised in Sydney. However, should there be a hitch
hardly anyone would notice it. All the attention in town would be about
Costello’s budget. And the implanted impression through Downer’s spin
will still be “Deal reached on Timor Sea oil” as reported by Cynthia
Banham in the Sydney Morning Herald
two weeks ago.

Read more on the Crikey website here.