Indonesia

Peace talks with Aceh rebel to go on: minister

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JAKARTA, Jun 21, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Indonesian Minister of Justice and Human Rights Hamid Awaluddin asserted Tuesday that the government will join the last round of peace negotiations with the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Helsinki, Finland from July 12 to July 14.

"The President's commitment must go on. This means that we welcome and will join the last round of peace talks," Hamid told reporters after a meeting to discuss the Helsinki talks at the Vice President's office.

Hamid, who is also the chief negotiator of the Indonesian delegation for the talks with the rebel, said that the government' s negotiating team would sharpen issues to be brought to the Helsinki meeting.

"We will discuss at the meeting such issues as what measures can be taken if peace is achieved and what kind of the amnesty to be offered to GAM's members," Hamid was quoted by the Antara news agency as saying.

The Indonesian government and the GAM 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 destroyed some parts of Aceh province. The first round of the talks begin in January in Helsinki.

During the talks, the GAM agreed to diminish its demand of independence and proposed to a self-ruled government in the tsunami-hit province.

The GAM has struggled for setting up an independent state since 1976.