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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
East Timor maps border with Indonesia
East Timor's president-elect Xanana Gusmao (left) and Sergio Vieira de Mello, chairman of the UN Transitional Administration on East Timor
The UN is preparing to hand over power to East Timor
East Timor and Indonesia have begun working out exactly where their joint land border is.

East Timor, which borders Indonesia's West Timor, is set to become fully independent next month.

It has been under a United Nations transitional administration since voting to break away from Indonesia in 1999.

Now, surveyors and diplomats are visiting border districts to study old markers and geological features.

The survey began in the West Timor border town of Atambua on Monday and is expected to take about 10 days. On Tuesday, the surveyors were visiting East Timor's Suai district.

"They're talking to local experts - people who have lived there for years," said Philip Wood, a spokesman for the UN administration (UNTAET).

He said the Indonesian Government and East Timor's new Foreign Affairs ministry were working together and did not expect serious disagreement.

"There should be some fairly visible markers - it's more of a confirmation of where the border is," he said.

'Good spirit'

The launch of the border demarcation survey has been a major goal of the UN before it hands over power to East Timor.

The schedule for the survey was agreed last week at a meeting in Denpasar, on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

"I think we have achieved what we set out to do [at the meeting,]" said Nelson Santos, of East Timor's Foreign Affairs ministry. "We found there was a very good spirit of co-operation from the Indonesian side."

The survey team plans to visit the border districts of Covalima, Maliana in East Timor as well as the Oecussi enclave, an area belonging to East Timor that is cut off from the rest of East Timor by Indonesian land.

Oecussi is part of East Timor because it is where Portuguese colonisers first landed hundreds of years ago.

See also:

18 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor leaders look to future
17 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
E Timor warned of challenge ahead
04 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Gusmao calls East Timor refugees home
26 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Australia pledges $3m to East Timor
25 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
E Timor, Indonesia sign accords
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