AUSTRALIA and East Timor signed a historic treaty drawing their maritime boundary, ending years of bitter wrangling over billions of dollars of oil and gas riches lying beneath the Timor Sea.

The agreement also marked the successful conclusion of the first-ever negotiations to settle maritime differences under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a process that UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres urged other countries to use to peacefully resolve such disagreements.

Before a crowd of cameras, diplomats and officials, two copies of the treaty were signed by Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, and East Timor’s minister for delimitation of borders, Hermenegildo Augusto Cabral Pereira.

“It is a landmark event for our two nations, but also for international law,” Bishop said. “Both our governments have deemed this to be a just and equitable outcome.”

Pereira agreed, saying: “Today is indeed a momentous day that will be recorded in East Timor’s history. With the signing of this treaty, we write a new chapter in the friendship between our countries.”