SECOND ROUND OF BOUGAINVILLE PEACE TALKS BEGINNING IN NEW ZEALAND

admin's picture

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 30, 1997 - Radio Australia)---The people of Papua New Guinea have been urged to pray for peace on Bougainville Island, as parties in the conflict gather in New Zealand for a second round of peace talks.

The Archbishop of the Catholic Church in East New Britain Province, Karl Hesse, who is also the church leader for Bougainville, called on all Papua New Guineans to unite in prayer to alleviate the suffering of those who have experienced Bougainville's nine-year civil conflict.

Meantime, delegates to the talks have begun arriving at Burnham Base near Christchurch, on New Zealand's South Island.

The Australian government is paying transport costs for the delegates, who will be trying to map out a strategy for a meeting involving top political leaders from throughout Melanesia later this year, Radio Australia reports.

Officials from the Papua New Guinea Government, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, the Bougainville Interim Government, and the Bougainville Transitional Government have begun arriving in Christchurch for the talks which begin Wednesday.

The PNG Government did not take part in the first talks at the Burnham military camp in July, but this time are sending a 20-member delegation.

Leaders of the PNG Defense Force also will attend.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, Don McKinnon, says he is hopeful that the talks will result in a meeting of all the factions' leaders later this year.

In transporting the delegates, Australia says it is not promoting a blueprint for a Bougainville settlement, but wants to act as a friend and facilitation.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says will transport 98 delegates using Royal Australian Air Force and commercial airline services.

He said Australia's role in getting delegates to and from the Burnham talks was the result of a request from PNG's Prime Minister, Bill Skate.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment