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New Zealand on situation in Aceh

New Zealand on situation in Aceh

Acting Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Jim Sutton today re-stated the Government's deep disappointment that peace talks between the Indonesian Government and the GAM (Free Aceh Movement) have broken down after talks in Japan last week failed.

Mr Sutton said it was regrettable that last minute mediation had failed and that the Government of Indonesia felt it had no alternative but to return to military action.

"Military action in the past has made matters worse not better in Aceh and again runs the risk of hardening attitudes and increasing local support for the GAM.

"There is widespread agreement within the international community that negotiation, not military action, is the only route to resolution of the conflict.

"Most Acehnese want the opportunity to go about their daily lives as normal. Genuine autonomy offers them this possibility within Indonesia. It is New Zealand's view that special autonomy for Aceh is a workable solution if both sides are committed to it, and if they return to and abide by their earlier undertaking as set out in the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA)."

The focus of New Zealand diplomatic efforts in this context is in Jakarta where the New Zealand Embassy is making representations at a senior level within the Indonesian Government to outline New Zealand's concerns.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand was not central to this issue but we would continue to add our weight to the efforts of Japan, the EU, US and others who share our view that a negotiated solution is the only approach likely to produce a lasting settlement.

The New Zealand Government has also expressed concerns for the plight of civilians in Aceh who might be caught up in the conflict. Mr Sutton urged the Indonesian military to respect the human rights of the Acehnese and noted that the Indonesian Military Chief has insisted his soldiers respect human rights or face severe consequences.

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