12 Apr 2006

Indonesia wants direct talks with Australian PM over Papua visa row

3:32 pm on 12 April 2006

Indonesia has called on the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, to hold direct talks with its President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to resolve the crisis over the granting of asylum to 42 Papuans.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a presidential spokesman, Andi Mallarangeng, also suggested Mr Howard should order the navy to prevent more boatloads of Papuans reaching Australia.

He says when Middle Eastern asylum seekers left Indonesia, they were stopped by the Australian coast guard, but, he says, this did not happen with the Papuans.

Mr Mallarangeng says Indonesia wants Australia to be fair to Indonesia.

He says the announced review of asylum-seeker policy to accommodate Indonesian concerns is a good starting point.

Mr Mallarangeng also rejected calls for Papuan independence.

He says Indonesia's sovereignty over Papua is final.

Mr Mallarangeng says there will not be a dialogue on Papuan independence, or any dialogue on a so-called historical review, but Indonesia is willing to have a dialogue on the implementation of regional autonomy in the province.

He says Jakarta is willing to have a peace process and walk the distance on the issue of Papua.