16 Jan 2014

Setback for admission of West Papuan group into MSG

9:14 am on 16 January 2014

Vanuatu's Foreign Minister Edward Natapei believes recent events will make it more difficult to push for the admission of a West Papuan group into the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

The Vanuatu government pulled out of an MSG Foreign Ministers delegation to Indonesia this week to discuss and visit West Papua because it believes the trip is being used by Indonesia to promote economic ties.

Mr Natapei says the visit was supposed to assist leaders in making a decision about whether the West Papuan National Coalition for Liberation, based in Vanuatu, should become a full member.

He says trips to Indonesia by the heads of government of Fiji, PNG, and the Solomon Islands, in the past few months, is sending the wrong message.

"Considering that three of the leaders of MSG have been in Indonesia and they have entered into some agreements with the government of Indonesia I believe it's going to be a lot more difficult this time to try and push this agenda forward."

Edward Natapei says he's concerned about reports of protesters being arrested in West Papua this week during the visit of the MSG group.