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Yudhoyono: 'Review cooperation with Canberra' JAKARTA - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called for a review of Indonesia's cooperation with Australia, as a row over Canberra's decision to accept asylum seekers from Papua deepens. 'Relations between Indonesia and Australia are entering a difficult time, full of challenges,' he said yesterday.

Jakarta has already withdrawn its ambassador from Australia, but in his first official statement on the issue, the President called for serious bilateral talks on areas of cooperation. He also spoke of the need to underline respect for Indonesia's territorial integrity. He said Canberra's decision to give political asylum to 42 Indonesian citizens from Papua was 'not right, not realistic and one-sided', and strikes at our 'integrity and dignity'.

He warned: 'Indonesia will not tolerate any element in any country, including Australia, that clearly gives support and plays a role in a separatist movement in Papua.' Indonesia gained sovereignty over Papua -- a former Dutch colony in the western half of New Guinea island -- in 1969, but rebels have been waging a low-level campaign for a separate state for decades. The 42 Papuans granted temporary visas last month claimed they were under threat from Indonesian security personnel.

Indonesia has denied allegations of human rights abuses in the resource-rich province, but rights activists claim that thousands have been killed in anti-insurgent operations since 1969. Meanwhile, many Indonesians believe Australia secretly supports Papuan independence, a suspicion fuelled by Canberra's leading peace-keeping role in East Timor, which voted to break from Jakarta in 1999.

Australia, which insists that the granting of the visas does not mean it supports Papuan independence, sought to play down Dr Yudhoyono's comments, AFP reported, with Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile saying he was confident relations would hold. Dr Yudhoyono also held out the possibility of reversing the deterioration in ties, thanking Australia for its support, including in Nias and Aceh after the Dec 26, 2004, tsunami, and saying that while there were serious problems between the two countries, 'this does not mean they cannot be resolved'.

At the same time, he urged Indonesians to exercise restraint over the tit-for-tat publication of cartoons portraying leaders of the two countries as copulating dogs. He said the cartoons were vulgar and that people should learn from the recent furore over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Western media, which led to fatal riots in some Muslim countries.

'This kind of cartoon, aside from being offensive, tends to be agitative, destructive and inflammatory,' he said. And he warned the Indonesian media against 'going too far' in expressing anger over the issue. 'Let us act appropriately and not cross the boundaries of decency,' he said.


Link to related event Related event:
Papua conflict


Posted in Politics @ 05 April 2006 07:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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