12 Apr 2008

Vanuatu's foreign minister vows to push West Papuan self-determination at MSG

9:28 am on 12 April 2008

Vanuatu's Minister of Foreign Affairs has vowed to push the issue of West Papuan self-determination at next months Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting in Port Vila.

George Wells has met with West Papuan leaders who were in Vila this week for a major meeting of the West Papua National Coalition of Liberation.

Mr Wells said he wants to see West Papua ultimately given Observer status in the MSG as well as the Pacific Islands Forum.

Vanuatu governments has long supported the West Papuan cause but have often been a lone voice on the issue in the region.

Mr Wells' first political advisor Jonas Cullwick says the government knows it must push for support from other MSG governments first and foremost.

"This is an opportunity to get the MSG and other Melanesian countries to back Vanuatu in this position and maybe there's a better possibility after that that wider support can be got if Melanesian groups have stronger backing for the West Papuan cause."