30 Jan 2003

Indonesia warns Vanuatu over support for separatist Papuans

4:50 pm on 30 January 2003

Indonesia has warned that it will cut diplomatic ties with Vanuatu because of the Pacific nation's support for separatist Papuan rebels.

Jakarta's Acting Ambassador to Vanuatu, Imron Cotan, says the prime minister, Edward Natapei, was reminded of an agreement by the Pacific Islands Forum to support Indonesia's sovereignty over Papua.

Mr Cotan says Jakarta is unhappy about plans by Papuan separatist supporters to open an embassy in Port Vila.

He says if the Vanuatu government allows Papuans to open an embassy, Jakarta would see this as interference into its internal affairs.

Mr Cotan says Indonesia will not tolerate such a move.

"Indonesia is ready to go to war in order to maintain Papua within our territory so we are indeed serious about Papua. Nobody I believe should take it lightly. Indonesia will be more than prepared to freeze anything if our sovereignty over Papua is questioned. That is definitely a no go in Indonesia."

Indonesia's Ambassador to Vanuatu, Imron Cotan