9 Feb 2015

PNG clarifies position on West Papua

8:18 pm on 9 February 2015

Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato has reaffirmed his government's support for Indonesian territorial sovereignty in West Papua and Papua provinces.

This comes after the PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill made his strongest statement yet about human rights abuses in Indonesia's eastern region.

Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato.

Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Mr O'Neill said the time has come to speak out about oppression of West Papuans.

Though Mr Pato suggests parts of the statement have been misconstrued by some local media commentators who have ignored the context of PNG's relationship with Indonesia.

He says he has since been in touch with his Indonesian counterpart...

"Whom I had the opportunity to speak to on the phone yesterday in Jakarta on some of these issues over the Prime Minister's statement. So we've moving ahead and putting all those things, particularly the interpretations of that statement, behind us."

Meanwhile, Rimbink Pato says the new West Papuan bid for membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group must be made in consultation with Indonesia's government.

This follows the submission last week of a membership application to the MSG by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

However, a spokesman for the ULM says it hasn't consulted Jakarta on the submission, and that MSG leaders do not need Indonesian endorsement to reach a decision on the application.