Albanese vows to bolster partnership with East Timor

Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

Australia's relationship with East Timor has entered a "new era", as Anthony Albanese vowed to help strengthen the small Asian nation's economy.

Mr Albanese met with his Timorese counterpart Xanana Gusmão on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta on Wednesday.

It's the first one-on-one meeting between the two leaders.

Mr Albanese, who congratulated his counterpart on his election victory earlier this year, said he admired the struggle and success of the former Timorese freedom fighter and accession to the leadership.

"Your return as prime minister is something that is certainly welcomed by myself, and the emergence of East Timor as an important democracy in the region," he said.

"Australia will be the best partner we can be for East Timor, a partner who listens to your priorities and interests, a partner who will stand by you now and in the future."

The pair discussed the diversification of East Timor's economy, defence cooperation, people-to-people ties, along with East Timor's application for membership to ASEAN.

Mr Gusmao said the relationship with Australia would ensure East Timor would go from a position of "fragility" to one of prosperity.

"We can start a new era of our relationship," he said.

"The objective now is to develop the economy."

The Timorese prime minister also flagged climate change as an area of cooperation for the two countries.

Mr Albanese said Australia remained committed to diversifying East Timor's economy, noting pathways for Timorese workers as part of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme had increased.

The prime minister also met with Laos Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone for bilateral talks while at the ASEAN Summit.

Mr Albanese congratulated his counterpart on his election victory last December and promised to elevate the relationship with the Asian nation to a comprehensive partnership.