12 May 2006

Australian and Indonesian Foreign ministers to meet over Papua row

1:44 pm on 12 May 2006

Australia's Foreign minister Alexander Downer says he will meet with his Indonesian counterpart Hassan Wirajuda in Singapore on Monday.

The meeting is seen as an attempt to smooth differences over Australia's granting of visas to Papuan asylum seekers.

Indonesia withdrew its ambassador to Australia earlier this year after the decision to grant refuge to the 42 asylum seekers from Papua province.

The meeting between Mr Downer and Mr Wirajuda could pave the way for the return of Jakarta's ambassador.

Another three Papuans arrived in Australi last weekend, but their fate is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian Prime Minister John Howard says he plans to meet Indonesion President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono soon.

He says that Papua and related issues will come up in discussions.

Mr Howard says Mr Yudhoyono is aware of allegations of abuses by the Indonesian military in Papua, and admits the human rights situation there is less than perfect.