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Bougainville peace process: agreement on plans for weapons disposal.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Media Release Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer

11 May 2001

Bougainville Peace Process - Agreement on Plans for Weapons Disposal

I warmly welcome the announcement today that the Papua New Guinea Government and the Bougainvilleans have reached agreement on a weapons disposal plan.

This is an important step forward on the road to peace and stability in Bougainville.

Today’s agreement builds on the political settlement reached in Kokopo in January.  It provides for the phased removal of guns and other weapons from communities.

Conclusion of a weapons disposal agreement is a major achievement.  I recognise the considerable effort made by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the Resistance Forces in concluding this agreement.  I also congratulate the work of the United Nations Observer Mission in helping the parties resolve the complex issues and pay tribute to the leadership of the Bougainville Affairs Minister, Moi Avei, who has guided the peace process forward over the past few months.

We are glad that Australia was able to assist this process through the hosting of earlier talks in Townsville in February this year.

There of course remain many difficult issues to resolve.  Australia continues to be fully committed through our aid program and the Peace Monitoring Group to supporting the peace process.

We understand that Bougainville leaders are this week travelling to Port Moresby for the resumption of negotiations on autonomy.  We look forward to the early conclusion of a final political settlement on Bougainville.

Inquiries:  Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534 / 0417 219 785


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