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Jakarta Post

FM'€™s pacific tour concludes as Papua issue continues to bubble

  • Bagus BT Saragih

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, March 4, 2015   /  06:44 pm

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi has completed her one-week tour of four pacific nations, including three members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), which has just received another membership application from a Papuan resistance group.

Retno arrived in Jakarta on Wednesday after concluding her diplomatic trip to New Zealand. Previously, she visited and met with the foreign ministers of three MSG member states: Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji.

The MSG was said to be gearing up to discuss the United Liberation Movement of West Papua'€™s (ULMWP) full membership application, which was submitted to MSG'€™s headquarters in Port Vila, Vanuatu, last month.

The ULMWP is a grouping of three West Papuan groups, namely the Federal Republic of West Papua, the West Papua National Parliament and the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL). The MSG Leaders' Summit in Port Moresby, last year, rejected WPNCL'€™s membership application.

But official statements from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry did not indicate any relationship between Retno'€™s tour and ULMWP'€™s bid to become MSG'€™s sixth full member.

Retno and her Melanesian counterparts only discussed "Indonesia'€™s commitment to the US$20 million capacity-building program for MSG countries."

Papua New Guinea'€™s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, the Solomon Islands'€™ Milner Tozaka, and Fiji'€™s Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, also agreed that, "as part of Indonesia'€™s greater engagement in MSG, the ministers will intensify communication on issues relating to the MSG."

The ministers will also "promote regular consultations, contacts and exchanges of visits among Indonesia and MSG members," according to the statement.

Tozaka also extended an invitation for Retno to attend the MSG meeting as an observer in July in the Solomon Islands.

In December 2014, the ULMWP was established in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu which has frequently criticized alleged human rights abuses in West Papua and Papua provinces.

Vanuatu also refused to take part in a mission of high-ranking representatives of the MSG nations to visit Jakarta, Maluku and Papua, in January, last year.

The invitation succeeded in wooing MSG member states and persuaded them to recognize the latest developments by the Indonesian government in the country'€™s most remote and backward provinces of Papua and West Papua.

In New Zealand, Retno and her counterpart Murray McCully agreed to enhance the two countries'€™ relationship in many sectors including agriculture, trade, investment and defense. (nfo)(++++)

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