10 Nov 2005

Papua's removal from U.S. bill welcome, says Indonesia

5:27 pm on 10 November 2005

Indonesia has welcomed a decision by the United States Congress to omit references to Papua from the State Department Authorisation Bill.

The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesia says the omission reflects the consistent support of both the U.S. government and Congress for Indonesia's national integrity.

Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Marty Natalegawa said the ministry considers the move to be the fruit of persistent diplomatic efforts by "all elements of the nation".

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the State Department Authorisation Bill in July.

It questioned the incorporation of Papua into Indonesia following the so-called Act of Free Choice in 1969, in which carefully selected Papuan representatives voted for the territory to remain part of Indonesia.

The bill also referred to human rights abuses by the Indonesian Military in Papua, and would have obliged the US to endorse an investigation by the United Nations into the 1969 event.

However, the references to Papua in the bill sparked uproar among Indonesian politicians.

During a visit to the U.S. in September, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned that Papua was "Indonesia's domestic affair".