27 Apr 2006

Vanuatu Foreign Minister steers clear of confirming Indonesia comments on Papua

8:18 pm on 27 April 2006

Vanuatu's Foreign Minister, Sato Kilman, says he cannot confirm whether he made comments in Jakarta about pledging his country's support for a unitary Indonesian state.

Indonesian media reports last week quoted Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda as saying Mr Kilman, during his recent visit to Jakarta, said that Vanuatu doesn't support any separatist activities or Papua independence groups.

Such comments would appear to be contrary to Vanuatu's avowed stance in support of Papua.

However, Mr Kilman has steered clear of confirming or denying the comments.

"Whatever happens in Indonesia is the perogative of the people of that country and if they decide to be independent, the West Papuans, then that is something they must take up with the relevant authorities, not only domestically but internationally as well.'"

Sato Kilman says the only Papua concern he addressed with Indonesian authorities was over allegations of security atrocities in the province.

He says he's satisfied that Indonesia is taking a more responsible approach to addressing abuses in Papua.