PACIFIC LEADERS CONCERNED OVER VIOLENCE IN IRIAN JAYA

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TARAWA, Kiribati (October 30, 2000 – The Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---Agencies)---Pacific leaders Monday said they were deeply concerned over the violence and killings by separatists and Indonesian security forces in the country's province of Irian Jaya this year.

A communiqué issued after the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum called for closer dialogue between independence supporters and Indonesia.

Irian Jaya, called West Papua by separatists, shares a land border with Forum member Papua New Guinea.

Fellow Forum members Nauru and Vanuatu sought strong pro-independence language in the communiqué but Australian Prime Minister John Howard sought to soften it.

Australia is trying to repair relations with its northern neighbor. Ties plummeted after Australians led a multinational peacekeeping force into East Timor to end violence by militias opposed to the territory breaking away from Indonesia.

Leaders expressed "deep concern" and added: "They call on the Indonesian government, the sovereign authority, and secessionist groups to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue and consultation.

"They also urged all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents."

The leaders also agreed Monday to adopt tougher measures against neighbors who spurn democracy, shaking off a traditionally complacent approach to regional affairs after armed uprisings this year in Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

At the end of the 31st Pacific Islands Forum summit on this tiny atoll nation, leaders signed off on a communiqué committing member states to democratic principles and giving the Forum new powers to chastise rebel states, including imposing sanctions.

Kiribati, formerly known as the Gilbert Islands, is an archipelago about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Hawai‘i. It was the scene of World War II battles in which thousands of U.S and Japanese troops died.

KABAR-IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: http://www.irja.org/index2.shtml and http://www.kabar-irian.com 

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