SOMARE, DIRO, HAIVETA, ONA MISSING BOUGAINVILLE PEACE TALKS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 19, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Three senior Papua New Guinea MPs have withdrawn from the bipartisan Bougainville peace talks team, now meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

East Sepik Governor Sir Michael Somare, Central Governor Ted Diro and Pangu Pati Leader Chris Haiveta were not on the flight to New Zealand Sunday with Prime Minister Bill Skate, The National newspaper reports.

They were reported to have withdrawn in view of the PNG government's "unclear policy approach to the current talks."

The three MPs could not be reached Sunday for comment.

Skate was accompanied by Opposition Leader Bernard Narakobi and government officials on a Royal Australian Air Force jet.

The President of the self-styled Bougainville Interim Government and Supreme Commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, Francis Ona, also is not attending this week's meeting of leaders in the Bougainville conflict at Lincoln University, Christchurch. This was confirmed by the Chairman of the Bougainville Interim Government, Joseph Kabui, who is leading the secessionist delegation at the meeting.

Kabui's delegation and those of the Bougainville Transitional Government Premier Gerard Sinato arrived in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, Sunday afternoon aboard two separate RAAF Hercules planes. They were joined by the Solomon Islands observer delegation led by Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu and traveled to New Zealand aboard an Australian Air Force 707 jet.

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