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GAM agrees to discuss special autonomy in next round of talks

Detik.com - February 18, 2005

Luhur Hertanto, Jakarta - The Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs, Widodo AS, has revealed that the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) has agreed to including special autonomy in the agenda to be discussed in the next informal meeting between GAM and the Indonesian government which is to take place in Helsinki.

"We have received confirmation from GAM on the agenda which will be discussed. Based on this conformation the team will depart tomorrow", said Widodo following a meeting at the Presidential Palace on Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara on Friday February 18.

Including special autonomy on agenda for the talks resulted from an offer from the government in order to continue talks with GAM. Prior to this the government asserted that it was not prepared to participate in meetings with GAM if special autonomy was not on the agenda.

Widodo said that the government has high hopes that the Saturday meeting in Helsinki will resulted in concrete advances which can contribute to resolving the Aceh conflict comprehensively and permanently.

The team which will leave tomorrow is the same team that participated in the first negotiations at the end of January, that is Widodo, the minister for communication and information, Sofjan Djalil, and the minister for legal affairs and human rights, Hamid Awaluddin, who will act as the chief negotiator. (umi)

[Translated by James Balowski.]
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