5 September 2005

Secretary-General Welcomes Positive Steps by Indonesian Government, Free Aceh Movement

NEW YORK, 2 September (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General welcomes the positive initial steps taken by both the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in implementing the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which they signed on 15 August 2005.  He also welcomes the arrival in the province of some of the members of the Aceh Monitoring Mission appointed by the European Union and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Secretary-General is encouraged by the Government of Indonesia's withdrawal of approximately 1,300 soldiers from the province, and its release of several hundred GAM members and sympathisers from jail.  He also commends the GAM for encouraging at least 60 of its members to emerge from their jungle hideouts in Southern Aceh.

The Secretary-General urges both parties to remain resolute in implementing the MoU, to ensure the new and bright future which it promises for the people of Aceh.

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