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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Aceh peace talks 'still possible'
GAM rebels
Aceh's separatist war has claimed thousands of lives
Indonesia has said it is still willing to talk to separatist rebels in Aceh to save the province's troubled peace agreement.

But it said the rebels, from the Free Aceh Movement (Gam), must publicly acknowledge that the peace pact does not provide for complete independence from Jakarta, only a form of "special autonomy".

Senior security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also said the rebels must start disarming - one of the key demands made in the 9 December peace plan.

Mr Yudhoyono said Indonesia was not prepared to put forward any new initiatives, and that the rebels had two weeks to decide whether to accept the offer.

The government's announcement on Monday came after last week's cancellation of a Joint Council meeting between the two sides in Geneva.

Jakarta withdrew from the meeting on Thursday, in protest at Gam's demand to postpone the talks for a further two days.

Stalled process

Under the terms of last December's ceasefire agreement, both sides are meant to make concessions to the other.

The rebels are supposed to place their weapons in special arms dumps, and the Indonesian military is meant to withdraw to defensive positions.

Neither side has so far fulfilled its side of the bargain.

In recent weeks, there have been a series of additional setbacks.

As well as the cancellation of the Geneva meeting, there has also been a notable increase in violence in the troubled province, with more than 50 killings reported in the last month.

International peace monitors have pulled back to the provincial capital Banda Aceh, after a series of security scares and arson attacks.

At least 12,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the 26-year conflict in Aceh.

The peace process now looks extremely fragile, says the BBC correspondent in Jakarta, Rachel Harvey.

The door to peace is still open but maybe not for much longer, our correspondent says.




SEE ALSO:
Aceh peace talks cancelled
24 Apr 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Concern over Aceh peace deal
10 Apr 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Aceh peace monitors besieged
07 Apr 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Violence threatens Aceh deal
04 Apr 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Will Aceh's deal work?
08 Dec 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Aceh's separatists
09 Dec 02  |  Asia-Pacific


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