AUSTRALIA, EAST TIMOR TRADE WORDS OVER OIL

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 11) - Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has reacted angrily to criticism from East Timorese leaders over Australia's position in negotiations on undersea oil resources between the two countries.

Both East Timor's prime minister and president say Australia is denying the proper sharing of revenue from the rich undersea resources.

Negotiators for East Timor want the revenue to be held in a trust account until negotiations over who has sovereignty of the waters is resolved.

Mr Downer says he has an obligation to look after Australia's interests, and criticising Australia won't help East Timor's cause.

He said: "l don't think the tactic of strident rhetoric and denunciation of Australia, accusations of greed and ill faith and so on. l don't think that tactic in the end, which is a big surprise to us, after all we've done for East Timor, l don't think that is going to prove very successful."

May 11, 2004

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

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