31 Jul 2003

NZ foreign minister welcomes completion of 2nd stage of Bougainville disarmament

10:15 am on 31 July 2003

The New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff has welcomed news that the United Nations has verified the completion of Stage two of the disarmament programme on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainvlle.

Stage two is the storage of the guns ahead of a decision to destroy them.

The UN announcement means the island's arrangements for an autonomous Bougainville Government now become operational.

It also means that a conditional referendum on possible independence in 10 to 15 years time now applies.

Mr Goff says he urges the former combatants to reach agreement on the destruction of the guns without delay so the UN can declare that conditions exist for the holding of free and fair elections.