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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 11:37 GMT
Yudhoyono visits strife-torn Aceh
Indonesian troops in Aceh (25/11/04)
Security was very tight ahead of the visit
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made his first visit to the troubled province of Aceh since taking office last month.

Mr Yudhoyono spent just a few hours in the Muslim-majority province, where he met religious and community leaders.

He repeated his determination to tackle conflict in the province, where the army has staged an 18-month offensive against separatist rebels.

The army says it has killed more than 2,000 rebels during the campaign.

The figures are hard to verify, and rights groups say many of the dead were civilians.

Mr Yudhoyono, a former security minister in the previous government, said he brought a "new determination" to solve Aceh's conflict.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Mr Yudhoyono says Aceh will be a top priority
"If conflicts continue to take place, there will be more victims, something that we do not wish to happen," he said.

Earlier this month Mr Yudhoyono's government decided to extend the current civil emergency in the province for a further six months, offering an amnesty to rebel fighters who decide to surrender.

But the rebels insist they will only resume talks if full independence is on the agenda - something that the government in Jakarta has rejected.

On Friday, Mr Yudhoyono told religious and political leaders that keeping the civil emergency in place was necessary to allow Aceh to recover.

He said a concrete agenda was needed to develop Aceh in terms of religion, social issues and the economy.

But there was no indication as to what form that agenda might take, the BBC's Jakarta correspondent says.

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