7 Oct 2002

Australia cast doubts on Pacific nieghbours helping to mediate between Jakarta and Papua

12:01 pm on 7 October 2002

Australia has cast doubt on the idea of Indonesia using its Pacific neighbours to mediate with Papuan independence leaders.

New Zealand's foreign minister, Phil Goff, earlier said New Zealand would accept any invitation to mediate between the Jakarta and independence leaders in the province of Papua.

Papua New Guinea made a similar offer as both countries attended the first meeting of the Southwest Pacific Dialogue held in the Javanese cultural capital of Yogyakarta.

The group of six countries - Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and the Philippines - is designed to act as a bridge between the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Pacific Islands Forum.

The Australian Foreign Minister ,Alexander Downer, said he did not believe that Indonesia would ever ask Papua New Guinea, New Zealand or Australia to mediate.

He said Jakarta was focusing on trying to make its new special autonomy arrangements work in Papua, not on getting third countries heavily involved.