East Timor is to acquire two navy patrol boats from South Korea in a step to move out of Australia’s military influence.
The South Korean Navy boats with foreign-trained crews will patrol Timor’s territorial waters and most notably the area around the Greater Sunrise gas field, which the Australian Defence force had previously tried to protect.
The deal with South Korea also involves the acquisition of a publicly unknown quantity of munitions, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
East Timor’s Prime Minister and Defence Minister Xanana Gusmao said his country could not rely on Australia and Indonesia to guarantee its independence.
“Even the countries that have been democratic and developed for centuries concern themselves with their defence and security, investing in these vital areas, which East Timor itself must do,” he added.
The country also acquired two 43m-long and 175t Shanghai Class boats for $28m earlier this year.