Aceh peace talks to be held in Geneva

Aceh rebel representative, Zaini Abdullah, signs the original ceasefire in May Keystone

The Indonesian authorities have confirmed that in mid-September they will hold talks in Switzerland with rebels from the restive province of Aceh.

This content was published on September 3, 2000 minutes

The negotiations in Geneva will focus on requirements for formally extending a ceasefire in the province. The two sides signed the original ceasefire in Geneva last May.

Since it came into force on June 2, the truce has been marred by about 70 killings, but has succeeded in stemming the worst of the violence in the war-torn province.

In a joint statement, Indonesia and the rebels of the Free Aceh Movement said they had both agreed in principle to extend a three-month truce which expired on Saturday. However, Jakarta did not say how the long the extension might last.

The Indonesian president, Abdurrahman Wahid, who is trying to keep his multi-ethnic country intact, has promised greater autonomy for Aceh, but has ruled out independence.

Demands for independence among the four million people of the resource-rich province have been fuelled by years of human rights abuses by Indonesia's military.

Resentment also runs high over what is seen as Jakarta's exploitation of Aceh's natural resources.

swissinfo with agencies

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