21 Apr 2015

Jakarta embassy no priority for Vanuatu

2:36 pm on 21 April 2015

Vanuatu's prime minister has downplayed the suggestion made by the foreign minister that it was poised to open an embassy in Indonesia.

Joe Natuman says there is no such policy direction at present as his government has more pressing issues to attend to right now.

The statement follows reports from Jakarta that the visiting foreign minister, Sato Kilman, indicated that Vanuatu wanted to open a mission as soon as possible to strengthen co-operation between the two countries.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman

Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

But Mr Natuman says given Vanuatu's firm position on West Papua and its stance against alleged human rights abuses there, Vanuatu will need to weigh up all sides before taking its diplomatic relations with Indonesia to the next level.

Melanesian countries will consider a bid from West Papua to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group, when it meets in July.

Meanwhile, Fiji has invited the Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi to the August summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Fiji.

She last visited Fiji three months ago as part of a regional tour.