THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — East Timor and Australia have begun conciliation talks in their bitter legal battle to set a permanent maritime boundary that will carve up billions of dollars in oil and gas reserves underneath the seabed.
Speaking Monday at a hearing in the Netherlands, East Timor's former leader Xanana Gusmao told a panel of five experts, "We have not come to The Hague to ask for favors or special treatment. We have come to seek our rights under international law."
The long-running dispute has deeply scarred relations between wealthy Australia and its tiny, impoverished northern neighbor.
Australia was to make its presentation later. The government in Canberra argues that the Hague-based panel does not have jurisdiction to set the border and that Australia is committed to upholding existing treaties between the two countries.
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