INDONESIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WIRAJUDA DENIES AUSTRALIA’S PM HOWARD DISCUSSED

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WEST PAPUAN FREEDOM WHILE IN PNG

By Sri Wahyuni and B. Rurit

JAKARTA, Indonesia (August 15, 2002 – Tempo Interactive)---Foreign Minister Nur Hassan Wirajuda has denied a media report saying that Australian Prime Minister John Howard visited Papua New Guinea to discuss the efforts to support West Papuan Freedom.

"It was not true that Howard's visit was intended [to discuss this matter]," Wirajuda told reporters after attending the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Development Cooperation Forum in Jakarta on Thursday.

An Australian daily newspaper reported that Howard met with Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Michael Somare, on Tuesday.

The news quoted by an Indonesian dotcom reported that the two leaders talked about the efforts to support Papua's separation from Indonesia.

According to Wirajuda, Papua New Guinea and Australia have said their stance is to support West Papua as a part of Indonesia.

"And the two countries have restated their stances during the Pacific Island Forum," he said.

During the Forum, Wirajuda went on to say, Australia and Papua New Guinea said they would support the implementation of special autonomy in Papua so that Indonesia could handle any problems in the province.

Therefore, Wirajuda called on the mass media not to speculate on the news reported by an Australian media source.

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

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