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Australia says it admires Indonesia's autonomy moves for Papua

Radio New Zealand International - October 1, 2013

The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, has restated that Canberra has total respect for Indonesia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Speaking in Jakarta, Mr Abbott has told his hosts that he admires what Indonesia has done to improve the autonomy and life of people in West Papua.

He says he is confident that they can have the best possible life and the best possible future as a part of an indissoluble Indonesia.

Papua is the scene of human rights abuses and largely closed to foreign media.

Last week, Australia deported seven Papuan asylum seekers from Queensland to the Papua New Guinea capital, allegedly after refusing them access to a lawyer. The group claimed to be persecuted by Indonesia's security forces. Australia's immigration minister, Scott Morrison, says the seven were sent to PNG under a concession provided by the PNG government under a 2003 memorandum of understanding.

Mr Morrison says he has reached a formal agreement with his PNG counterparts to ensure the prompt return of other asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by similar circumstances.