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Interviews

A 'Permanent Partnership'

American Ambassador Fergin discusses the U.S.-Timor-Leste relationship

Before President Obama named her as U.S. Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Amb. Judith R. Fergin previously served in Indonesia and Singapore.
What do you see as the future of U.S-Timor-Leste relations?

We have coined a phrase, which we think describes the U.S - Timor-Leste relationship.We call it a ‘permanent partnership.’ We both share values and interests around the world. We collaborate on human rights and democracy in other countries–ways that Timor-Leste has consistently tried to make its contribution on the world stage.

What are some of the priorities you have established as Ambassador for Timor-Leste that you hope will strengthen bilateral relations?

The first and foremost is working together with the government to help sustain the peace and security Timor-Leste needs to progress. We believe that a healthy, well-educated population with rising incomes and hopes for a better future for their children builds the kind of environment that will meet all of America’s needs and interests.

How have you seen this region change over the last several years?

I first came to Timor-Leste in 1990 when it was still part of Indonesia. I think the biggest change is that of an independent Timor-Leste.

What do you think are some of the major challenges facing Timor-Leste with respect to its regional integration? Are you optimistic about Timor-Leste’s entry into ASEAN?

Timor-Leste has already made its decision that it wants to be part of Southeast Asia. It wants to integrate into ASEAN. The challenge for Timor-Leste is to work through its membership application with ASEAN. We are not a member of ASEAN, and we don’t have vote on the matter; but, we do think that a natural progression for Timor-Leste is to join the group.

What should Americans know about Timor-Leste?

In a world where many countries seem to be going in the wrong direction, you can take Timor-Leste as one of the lessons on how you arrest the instability. As every month goes by, it’s another month of success and stability.

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