10 Sep 2007

Vanuatu open to giving West Papuans MSG observer status

3:20 pm on 10 September 2007

Vanuatu's government has expressed enthusiasm for the idea of granting observer status at the Melanesian Spearhead Group to West Papuans.

This follows a call by the Australia West Papua Association for native Melanesians living in the Indonesian region of Papua to be accorded the same status at the MSG as the Kanaks of New Caledonia.

The Association has sent an open letter to all MSG leaders reminding them that part of the Group's founding principle was to assist other Melanesian states that are not yet free.

The Association says the MSG can begin to facilitate proper West Papuan dialogue with Jakarta by granting them observer status at this month's scheduled meeting in Vanuatu.

Vanuatu's Foreign Minister, George Wells, says the idea is viable.

"Yeah I think so, because West Papuans are part of our Melanesian culture. So we think it's best if they can be (given) observer status inside the MSG, same as New Caledonia with the FLNKS movement. Yeah we have no problem with that."

George Wells