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Red Cross believes negotiations continuing over Papua operations

Radio New Zealand International - August 24, 2009

The Jakarta office of the International Committee of the Red Cross says as far as it knows negotiations are ongoing over the agreement under which it operates in Indonesia, covering its activities in the Papua region.

However an Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman on Friday said that the ICRC would not be allowed to re-open a branch office in Papua.

The Red Cross was forced to shut its office and leave Papua in April after its representatives visited prisoners there, including alleged separatist rebels.

Although unwilling to comment on the negotiations, the ICRC's spokesperson, Layla Berlemont, says the ICRC has been allowed to continue its Papua programme for cataracts treatment.

"Even when we were closing down the office we could conduct our cataract surgery operations for some residents of Papua in Papua. The programme was ongoing, it was not disturbed. It was in Jayapura, it was in Timika, it was in different places in Papua."