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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 21) – Vanuatu’s prime minister has confirmed his country will raise the issue of Papua [independence] at next month’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Fiji.

Ham Lini says Vanuatu intends to continue its long tradition of supporting Papua’s push for self-determination.

[PIR editor’s note: Papua, which borders Papua New Guinea, has been a province of Indonesia since 1969.]

Mr Lini said a suggestion from earlier in the year that Forum leaders or foreign ministers form a delegation to travel to Indonesia for talks with Jakarta has so far come to nothing.

But he says Vanuatu now enjoys increased contact with Indonesia and the time is right for more international discussion on Papua.

"I strongly believe that it should be on the agenda," said Lini. "The Vanuatu delegation will raise it somehow. Whether it is on the agenda or not, it will be raised in question time or oral discussion time. Whatever countries don’t support it, that’s their stand but Vanuatu thinks it’s time to push this forward and I strongly believe it will be appearing on the agenda."

September 22, 2006

Radio New Zealand International:

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