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Published on : Monday, December 21, 2015
The Indonesian defence minister warned other countries to respect his nation’s sovereignty over the troubled region of Papua, as meetings with Australian ministers ended amicably about the strength of the bilateral relationship.
Defence minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said Indonesia had “never disrupted or caused disruptions in other countries” and expected the same of other nations regarding Papua and its long-running independence movement.
“There are countries that are getting involved in the issue of Papua. For us, Papua is [part] of the united Republic of Indonesia. The united Republic of Indonesia extends from Sabang [in Sumatra] to Papua. There is no other solution, that’s it, that’s the way it is,” Ryacudu said in Sydney on Monday.
The comments from Ryacudu, who previously served as chief of staff of the Indonesian Army (TNI) and commander of the Strategic Army Command, or Kostrad, follow reports that all international NGOs have been ordered to close offices in Papua.
Ryacudu was in Sydney with foreign minister Retno Marsudi for a meeting with Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and defence minister Marise Payne.
Bishop also confirmed that Papua was discussed during the talks and reiterated that Australia respected Indonesia’s sovereignty over Papua.
“On the issue of Papua, yes, that was part of our discussions. We had a general discussion about regional issues, about Pacific issues and Australia restated, as we have done on many occasions, publicly and privately, our unconditional support and respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty in this regard,” Bishop said.
Indonesia, which took control in 1963 of Papua from the Dutch, has for a long time fought a separatist movement in the province and faced various allegations of widespread abuse of Papuans.