Acting Head of Centre
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Indonesia has asked Australia to caution its Pacific Island neighbours against interfering in the West Papua issue and to urge them to withdraw support for West Papuan membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, warning that the issue could pose a “stumbling block” to closer bilateral ties.
After the ministerial meeting on Friday, General Ryamizard said: “I have told Australia we never interfere with the internal affairs of any other country and we will strongly object if other countries do so to us.
“So please tell Solomon Island and those six nations (from the MSG) never to interfere or encourage West Papua to join them…Those countries better keep their mouths shut and mind their own business. It is better that (Australia) speaks to them gently. If it was left up to me, I would twist their ears.”
John Blaxland, of ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said Canberra would have little choice but to speak to the Solomons (which gets $162 million Australian aid this year) and “remind them of which side their bread is buttered”.
However, the Indonesian minister’s public statements were “extremely unhelpful” because they brought the issue into the open, which was wanted only by pro-independence activists. Dr Blaxland, said it was “completely toxic for Australia”.
Read the full article Jakarta pressures Julie Bishop on Papua in The Australian.