By ISAAC NICHOLAS
PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare has stressed the “excellent working relationship with Indonesia” amid claims of human rights abuse in West Papua, Indonesia.
Sir Michael and US secretary of state Hillary Clinton were holding a joint media conference on Wednesday in Port Moresby when Australian Associated Press journalist Ilya Gridneff posed the question about alleged human rights abuses in West Papua.
The prime minister said there were anti-Indonesian groups distributing such reports alleging human rights abuses.
He said the government of Susilo Bambang Yudyohono was paving the way forward for Indonesia which had seen the granting of special autonomy to some regions in the country.
Sir Michael said the working relationship between PNG and Indonesia had been very good.
He said Indonesia had started on a programme to bring back its citizens and one of them was his personal driver, who was now in Lake Sentani and travelled freely to PNG.
Sir Michael said trade along the border region had increased with people from West Sepik, East Sepik and Madang regularly visiting Indonesia.
Of the alleged human rights abuses, the prime minister said the PNG government was aware of the reports and the Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal had asked the Indonesian government for a response.
Clinton, in response to the question, said the US considered itself a friend and ally, claiming that any matter was discussed and explained.
“I have no comments to the specific matter referred to,” Clinton said.
“If there are continuous violence of human rights, they should be investigated and those responsible be held accountable,” she added.