Pacific Media Watch

22 April 2015

VANUATU: PM denies reported claims of plan for Jakarta embassy

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Vanuatu's foreign minister Sato Kilman indicated the opening of an embassy in Indonesia on Sunday. Image: Akbar Nugroho Gumay/ Jakarta Globe

Hilaire Bule
PORT VILA (Radio Australia/ Pacific Media Watch): Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman says the establishment of an embassy in Indonesia is not priority.

Responding to media coverage, a prime ministerial statement said there was no such policy direction at present as far as his government was concerned.

Natuman was responding to comments reportedly made by Foreign Minister Sato Kilman regarding the establishment of a Vanuatu embassy in Jakarta.

He said Vanuatu had more pressing issues to attend to right now in recovery efforts in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam, and added that given his firm position on West Papua and alleged human rights abuses there, Vanuatu needed to weigh up all options.

Bilateral relations
Kilman announced Vanuatu was preparing to open the embassy in a bid to enhance bilateral relations, as reported in the Jakarta Globe.

"Indonesia and Vanuatu will also be able to experience stronger bilateral relations in the future and be able to discuss various global issues together," he said.

The chairman of the Vanuatu Free West Papua Association and West Papua Unification Committee, Pastor Alan Nafuki, said the action of Kilman did not represent what the majority of the people in Vanuatu wanted.

"The people of Vanuatu, the churches, the chiefs, the women, organisations, the young people, everybody in Vanuatu supports the human rights of West Papua and they want West Papua to be free from Indonesian government," he said.

Nafuki said the minister did not "recognise the people of Vanuatu".

MSG membership
Nafuki said the association had written a letter to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to reaffirm its stance on West Papua becoming a member of the group

"We are now asking our friends from West Papua to lobby with the New Caledonia government, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Fiji," he said.

"We are trying to lobby for the June MSG meeting in Honiara to make sure our application goes through and people of West Papua become members of MSG."

Nafuki said the visits of the foreign ministers of Fiji and Vanuatu with the Indonesian minister would not affect the idea to make West Papua become a member.

"The Foreign Affairs [department] have got their own agenda with the Indonesian government, but that will never affect our stand requesting MSG to accept West Papua as members of MSG"."

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