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Aceh

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the political situation in Aceh. [113705]

The Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA), signed by the Indonesian Government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on 9 December 2002, has broken down. Talks held in Tokyo on 17 to 18 May 2003, aimed at salvaging the peace process, failed to reach agreement. The Indonesian Government have declared a state of martial law in Aceh, with the risk that the security situation will deteriorate.Despite the efforts of both sides, we regret the talks held in Tokyo did not achieve a positive result. We continue to impress upon both sides that a long-term solution to Aceh can only be achieved through peaceful dialogue and full implementation of the COHA. We hope that both sides will quickly return to the negotiating table.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Indonesian Government regarding attacks on international observers and civilians in Aceh. [113706]

A joint declaration by the co-chairs of the Tokyo Conference on Peace and Reconstruction in Aceh, Japan, EU, US and the World bank, was issued on 9 April 2003. The statement deplored the violence and threats of violence directed against several of the international monitoring teams, and urged the Indonesian Government to take immediate steps to ensure the security of monitors in the field. The monitors have since been withdrawn from Aceh.The EU, Japan and the US recognise that the end of the peace process could bring violence and suffering to the people of Aceh. Co-sponsors have been actively involved in persuading both sides that they should continue the political dialogue. We hope that both sides will quickly return to the negotiating table.