Subject: Back Off Free Papua Movement (OPM) Issue: MPR Head in U.S. Visit

[Indonesia is worried about Congressional attention to West Papua. Typically, the Indonesian legislators conflate any discussion of Papua with support for OPM. - John]

Antara July 17, 2009

MPR Head Asks US To Back Off OPM Issue

New York

The visiting speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly has asked the US government not to support the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM).

Hidayat Nur Wahid, speaking in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, said he had asked the United States to assist Indonesia in developing its democracy without providing support to the OPM.

"I said that to develop democracy, Indonesia must concentrate all the resources it has, but the state budget cannot be spent on defending its territorial sovereignty alone," he said.

Hidayat said he conveyed Indonesia's wishes to a number of US congressmen during his one-day visit.

"I asked the US congressmen to seriously help Indonesia, because I had heard that some of them frequently try to bring up the OPM issue in Congress."

He said that although issues related to Papua were discussed at the meeting, the recent shooting incidents near the Freeport mining complex in Mimika district were not touched on.

Hidayat also delivered a lecture at a forum sponsored by the US-Indonesia Association on the role of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) in maintaining democracy in the country, including the successful July 8 presidential election.

From Washington, Hidayat will travel to Houston, Texas, where he will speak to the Indonesian community about the 1945 Constitution and the powers of the MPR.

Several MPR members traveled to Washington, DC, and New York City last year and discussed the same issues.

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