Jakarta, March 19: India has offered to set up a Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (CEIT) in the Indian Ocean nation of Timor-Leste that lies between Indonesia and Australia.
India’s Ambassador to Indonesia Gurjit Singh, who is concurrently accredited to Timor-Leste, made the offer when he called on Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao during a visit to the island nation’s capital Dili March 13-15, according to a statement issued by the Indian embassy in Jakarta.
The ambassador also handed over a memorandum of understanding on this to the prime minister, who appreciated the Indian government’s initiative in the field of human resource development. The ambassador also offered to bring a business delegation from the Jakarta-based India Business Forum (IBF), which was “warmly accepted” by the prime minister, the statement said.
During the visit, the ambassador also met former Timor-Leste prime minister and Leader of the Opposition Mari Alkatiri, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Alfredo Pires, Transport and Telecommunication Minister Pedro Lay and Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Mariano Assanami Sabino and discussed various aspects of mutual interest.
India offers 10 scholarships for short- and medium-term courses to students in Timor-Leste under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) scheme every year. During 2013-14, Timor-Leste utilised all the 10 scholarships for the first time.
India also offers 10 scholarships every year for Timorese students to study courses in India ranging from the undergraduate to the post-doctoral level.
Timor-Leste, once East Timor, was colonised by Portugal in the 16th century, when it was known as Portuguese Timor. After decolonisation, East Timor declared its independence in 1975 but was occupied by Indonesia later that year and declared the country’s 27th province the following year. A UN-mandated referendum in 1999 saw Timor-Leste emerge as the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002. It is one of two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia, the other being the Philippines.