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Prime Minister Welcomes New Indonesian Cabinet

New Zealand welcomes the positive signs in the Indonesian Government signalled by the new Cabinet announced today, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said.

"We are encouraged by the calibre and composition of Indonesia's new Cabinet.

"President Wahid has drawn widely to form a Cabinet that emphasises political, ethnic and gender inclusion, civilian authority, and a commitment to continued economic and political reform."

New Zealand's Ambassador to Indonesia, Michael Green, was invited in yesterday to meet with President Wahid.

"We welcome this initiative on the President's part. New Zealand looks forward to working with his new administration to deepen bilateral relations and pursue common regional and international goals.

"Indonesia has taken great strides in democracy this year," Mrs Shipley said.

The legislative elections in June were the first free parliamentary elections since 1955.

"The people of Indonesia are now represented by a wide variety of political parties, giving free expression to a diversity of views on the management of Indonesia's future.

"The substantive involvement of Vice-President Megawati Soekarnoputri in the formation of the new Cabinet also bodes well for the cohesion and confidence of Indonesia's new government. I have written to Vice-President Soekarnoputri to add my own congratulations, as a women leader, to her accomplishment in achieving such high office.

"We hope that signs of returning economic confidence in the region will deliver benefits to Indonesia's people in the months ahead. New Zealand's support for regional economic growth through APEC, new World Trade Organisation negotiations, and our bilateral development cooperation will continue," Mrs Shipley said.

"We also welcome the steps President Wahid has taken to support a smooth transition towards independence by East Timor. The invitation he has extended to Xanana Gusmao to visit Jakarta is a positive sign for reconciliation and the establishment of sound relations between Indonesia and an independent East Timor. New Zealand will continue to participate in that process through our support for UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.

"Much hard work lies ahead for the new Government of Indonesia as it works to meet the aspirations of Indonesia's people. An encouraging start has been made by President Wahid and we extend New Zealand's best wishes to him and his new Cabinet as they undertake the challenges ahead," Mrs Shipley said.

ENDS

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