But he challenged the Australian government to match Labor’s offer of 90 per cent.
Under the original 1989 treaty, royalties were split 50:50 between Australia and Indonesia.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer last week said Australia and East Timor had resolved their major differences on the issue and were working towards a new treaty.
Mr Downer declined to give details of how
royalties would be split, but said Australia was prepared to concede the
Speaking in Melbourne tonight, Dr Ramos-Horta said the royalties were essential for East Timor’s future economic development, and while negotiations were still underway, he was confident a deal was close.
“There is optimism on our side and in Canberra that we can reach at least a new interim arrangement that would enable the oil companies, particularly Phillips Petroleum, to invest the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to lay down the pipelines from the Timor Gap area to the Northern Territory,” he said.
“Eighty-five per cent I hope is the minimum that the current government will offer,” he said.
“(But) I hope that John Howard and Alexander Downer will want to do more than what Labor has offered.
“Kim Beazley and Laurie Brereton have said a Labor government will offer 90 per cent of the revenues to East Timor.
“So if I were John Howard and Alexander Downer, I would never allow Labor to be seen as more generous that I.
“So the minimum that the current government should do is to offer 91 per cent or 95 per cent. The Australian community will applaud that,” Dr Ramos-Horta said.
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