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VP Ma'ruf Amin says Indonesia committed to free Susi Air pilot hostage, urges to reconsider foreign involvement

Tempo - February 28, 2024

Antara, Jakarta – Vice President Ma'ruf Amin said that attempts to free the Susi Air pilot who was being held hostage by the Free Papua Organization (OPM) is a sensitive issue, and that foreign involvement must be reconsidered.

The statement was relayed after meeting with the Prime Minister of New Zealand Cristopher Luxon on Tuesday afternoon at the Speaker Lounge of the New Zealand Parliamentary Building.

According to VP Ma'ruf, Indonesia continues to carry out efforts to free the hostage by approaching religious and community figures in Papua. "I said that we approach local and church figures in Papua, and [Luxon] appreciated it," he said in a written statement.

Luxon, he said, has agreed to the persuasive approach the Indonesian government employed to free Captain Philip Mark Mehrtens.

"I told him that Indonesia is committed to freeing the pilot, but we prioritize his safety so we engage in a persuasive method," he added. "And [Luxon] agrees with the method, since this is a sensitive issue."

The Indonesian government, according to the vice president, understood New Zealand's government of the ongoing hostage situation by the Papuan liberation group. "I want to emphasize that the Indonesian government is committed to freeing the pilot as soon as possible," he stressed.

Ma'ruf Amin hoped that the intensive communication between Indonesia and New Zealand could be sustained in an attempt to free the captain.

Captain Philip Mark Mehrtens was a New Zealand-based pilot for Susi Air who was held hostage since February 7, 2023, by the Papuan armed criminal group (KKB). The Indonesian government immediately notified New Zealand's Embassy in Jakarta and granted a consular mission on February 12, 2023.

New Zealand is currently trying to sway Indonesia to consider involving foreign parties in its negotiation with the Papuan group.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1838861/vp-maruf-amin-says-indonesia-committed-to-free-susi-air-pilot-hostage-urges-to-reconsider-foreign-involvemen