INDONESIA SEEKS CLOSER TIES TO PACIFIC ISLANDS

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‘We feel we belong to the Pacific Region’

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 31, 2011) – Indonesia says it wants greater cooperation with Pacific island countries because no country should stay isolated in the age of globalisation.

The comment comes from a senior official with Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Budiarman Bahar, who led Jakarta’s delegation at this week’s MSG Leaders Summit.

This year, for the first time, Indonesia has been granted observer status at the MSG.

The move has met with disapproval by many West Papuans, the indigenous Melanesians of Indonesia’s Papua region who have been asking for years for observer status at the MSG but are yet to receive it.

Mr Budiarman says Indonesia’s involvement with the MSG will enable closer dialogue with Melanesia over the Papua issue:

"Because we feel that we belong to the Pacific region and secondly because there is no other issue now that can be handled alone."

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