11 Apr 2006

Australia and New Zealand could play role in facilitating peace talks over Papua - academic

8:18 pm on 11 April 2006

Amid reports of more deaths in Papua, an academic says greater effort has to be made to find a real solution to the source of the tensions in the Indonesian province.

In the latest violence the Indonesian military reported two soldiers and two civilians were killed in a gun battle at the weekend.

Professor Peter King of Sydney University says Papuans have long called for a peaceful dialogue, and Australia, despite the furore over the asylum seekers, is well placed to play a role in this.

"The problem is to persuade the Jakarta government to take the risks, for instance, of offending the military, that a peace process with the Papuans would entail. Now the Australians should be able to help in that, not necessarily openly or explicitly, but with behind the scenes manoeuvres and doing the kinds of things that haven't turned so hard to do in Aceh, which is getting in some international imput."

Professor King says New Zealand, which has previously offered to mediate, could also help.

Meanwhile, there are discussions underway with Finnish conflict resolution groups to see if a dialogue would be feasible.