25 Sep 2003

Indonesian president dismisses independence claims

10:22 am on 25 September 2003

The Indonesian president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, says her government will never bow to independence demands by separatists in the provinces of Aceh and Papua.

Speaking in New York, she said the natural resources found in the provinces had always attracted foreigners.

She says her father, the late president Sukarno, was approached by Greek businessman, Aristotle Onassis, who wanted to lease Papua for 30 years for several billion dollars.

A US company, Freeport McMoran, won the rights to what is believed to be one of the world's top mining sites in Papua.

Megawati says Indonesia cannot be stupid with issuing visas as foreigners enter Papua as tourists and help rebels.

She also says Indonesian officials should be consulted before any human rights reports by foreigners are taken seriously.