Indonesia

Aceh rebels claim they held talks with civil representatives in Sweden

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JAKARTA, Jul 11, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The leaders of separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) had conducted a second meeting of peace talks with representatives of the civil society of the rebellious province from July 9 to 10 in Liding, Sweden, GAM spokesman Bakhtiar Abdullah said in an email received by Xinhua here on Monday.

"The Free Aceh Movement is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of its second meeting with the representatives of Aceh' s civil society groups," said Abdullah in the statement, without elaborating on the outcome of the meeting.

"GAM welcome the opportunity to exchange views with Aceh civil society groups on the Helsinki peace process and to discuss with them the prospects for peace in Aceh," he added.

The delegates from the Indonesian government and the GAM will hold the fifth meeting in Helsinki, Finland on Tuesday (July 12), in a bid to finalize the fourth round peace talks that was started late January.

The two sides agreed to bring the settlement of the conflict to the negotiation table after the province was devastated by the tsunami on December 26 that killed over 220,000 people and destructed some parts of the coastal areas of the province.

The GAM has waged a guerrilla war since 1976, accusing Jakarta of exploiting the impoverished province's rich resources. More than 12,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since then.