Indonesian gov’t, Aceh to hold dialogue

Indonesian gov’t, Aceh to hold dialogue

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Oct. 1 Kyodo

The Indonesian government and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) may hold talks at the end of this month that the European Union (EU) has offered to facilitate, an EU envoy said Monday.

”Fifteen countries of the EU are willing to facilitate the dialogue,” Belgian Ambassador to Jakarta Luc Darras told reporters after meeting Aceh government officials, military and police officers and local nongovernmental organizations.

”But we will only act as a facilitator. We don’t want to intervene in Indonesia’s internal affairs,” Darras added.

Deputy Aceh Gov. Azwar Abubakar expressed the local government’s appreciation of the EU’s offer and expected the central government to accept it.

According to Abubakar, the plan to hold the meeting was initiated by Aceh Gov. Abdullah Puteh and is expected to take place in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

”But we haven’t made any decision on the exact date of the talks,” Abubakar said.

Meanwhile, GAM spokesman Amri bin Abdul Wahab told Kyodo News the group welcomed the talks but is still waiting for the approval from their leader Hasan Tiro, who is in exile in Sweden.

GAM has been fighting for an independent Islamic state since the mid-1970s. A series of negotiations between Jakarta and GAM have failed to curtail the violence in the northernmost province, which has claimed 1,200 lives this year, mostly civilians.

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