By Don Greenlees, Jakarta correspondent
October 07, 2002
INDONESIA closed the door on foreign assistance in settling separatist demands in Papua during the inaugural meeting of the six-nation Southwest Pacific Dialogue at the weekend.
Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda maintained at the end of the two-day summit that the offer of special autonomy to Papua, including a better resource revenue share and administrative freedom, was the right solution to separatist pressures.
Foreign ministers and officials from Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and East Timor gathered in the central Java city of Yogyakarta on Friday and Saturday, fulfilling a goal set by ousted Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid.
Mr Wahid proposed the talks two years ago, partly in the hope of easing sensitivities over East Timor's separation.
The meeting canvassed a range of regional security threats but avoided stepping too far into contentious debate.
Unavoidably, the issue of separatism, particularly in Papua, lingered in the background of the talks, but all participants were careful to avoid questioning Indonesia's territorial integrity. Before the talks, New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff met Papuan leaders to hear concerns over conditions in the province.
Although Mr Goff expressed a willingness to assist Indonesia in overcoming tensions in Papua before the start of the meetings, Indonesia is wary of any outside involvement.
Mr Wirayuda said he had "listened attentively" on the issue of whether there was a need for third-party mediation, but Indonesia is confident it has the right formula for progress.
The shooting deaths of two Americans and an Indonesian working for the Freeport copper and gold mine in Papua heightened concerns about the potential for a growth in violence in Papua connected to the separatist struggle.
The foreign ministers meeting was due to be held in the Papuan town of Timika, below the Freeport mine, as a demonstration of Indonesian sovereignty – until the shootings occurred on August 31.
Indonesia's offer of autonomy as an end solution to Papuan aspirations is backed by Australia.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said at the end of the Yogyakarta meetings that Australia supported Indonesian sovereignty, and warned support for secessionist movements would "contribute to enormous destabilisation".
The foreign ministers issued a declaration committing the six countries to co-operation in fighting terrorism, people-smuggling and other transnational crimes.
On terrorism Filipino Foreign Secretary Blas Ople pushed for stronger region-wide action in fighting Jemaah Islamiyah.