PRESIDENT MEGAWATI PLEDGES PAPUA VISIT

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (March 9, 2002 – Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---On Friday, President Megawati Sukarnoputri promised again that she would visit Papua in the near future, after backing away from a similar pledge in December.

"God willing, I will make a visit (to Papua) soon," Megawati told 250 native Papuans from the Baliem valley, who went to the State Palace to pay a courtesy call on the President.

The Papuans were in Jakarta for a sightseeing tour; most of them have never visited the capital. They were granted permission to tour the State Palace, and the Merdeka Palace.

Megawati canceled her planned trip to Papua in December due to a stormy political climate stemming from the rejection by some groups of a special autonomy package that the central government had offered.

The President was initially scheduled to celebrate Christmas in Papua, the easternmost province of Indonesia, last December.

There is still no fixed date for announced the visit, however.

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

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