Canberra has damaged RI-A`lia relations: house speaker

10 April 2006

Makassar (ANTARA News) - House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Agung Laksono said here on Monday the Australia gvernment had damaged its diplomatic relations with Indonesia by its recent decision to give temporary visas to 42 Papuans asylum seekers.

"The granting of visas to the 42 Papuans to stay for three years in Australia was very wrong and has damaged the harmonious relationship the two countries have developed so far," he said in reply to a press question after attending the launching of a book written by South Sulawesi deputy governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo.

Agung said the Indonesian government`s plan to cut its diplomatic relations with Australia if Cnberra stuck to its decision was a reason for concern to all parties.

Asked about the 42 Papuans claim that they had sought asylum in Australia because they were being persecuted and harassed by the Indonesian military, Agung said it was a mere pretext for obtaining asylum.

Therefore, he said, the DPR would in the near future send some of its members in the Commission dealing with foreing affairs to Australia to brief their Australian counterparts about the real conditions in Papua.

"The issue will be discussed between the Indonesian and Australian parliament members so that Australian parliament members could explain to their government about the real condition in Papua so that it could review its decision to give visas to the Papuans," he said.

"We are hoping the Austraian government will be able to reverse its decision to issue temporary visas to the 42 Papuans," he said.

Asked what the DPR would do if its mission failed, Agung said the DPR would support the government`s plan to cut its diplomatic relations with Austarlia.

"What we plan to do is to engage in total diplomacy with the Australian parliament. We do not demonstrate against the Australian government," he said.(*)


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