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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 July 2005, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Indonesia agrees Aceh peace deal
Women walking past graffiti on a street in Aceh
The conflict in Aceh has gone on for 30 years
The Indonesian government and rebels from the province of Aceh have agreed a deal to end a 30-year-old insurgency.

Indonesian Communications Minister Sofyan Djalil made the announcement in the Finnish capital Helsinki where the talks are being held.

The government and Aceh rebels are due to sign the peace accord, which aims to end the insurgency, on 15 August.

But confusing messages have been given by the government in Jakarta, says our correspondent there, Rachel Harvey.

It is not clear if Jakarta has agreed to allow rebels to form their own political parties - a sticking point.

The talks began after the tsunami that killed at least 120,000 people in Aceh.

The differences have been ironed out
Sofyan Djalil, Indonesian communications minister

A deal will facilitate the delivery of international reconstruction aid to the province, which was the worst hit by December's tsunami.

About 15,000 people have died in the conflict between government and rebels.

A previous peace deal broke down in May 2003 amid bitter recriminations.

Unclear messages

The meeting, brokered by Finnish mediators, had been deadlocked over the issue of political representation.

The Free Aceh Movement (Gam) - which has given up its demands for independence for the province - had insisted on being allowed to form its own political party.

Negotiators had rejected a proposal that would allow them to field candidates within existing political parties.

Located on the northern tip of Sumatra island
Population of 4.3m people
Rich fuel resources, including oil and natural gas
Gam rebels have been fighting for an independent state

The compromise was sent to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Saturday.

"The differences have been ironed out," Mr Djalil said in Helsinki.

"The president has agreed to the draft submitted by Gam about political parties."

However, in Jakarta, the president said he would not agree to the rebels' demand "in an easy way". Our correspondent says it is not clear what he meant.

The two sides are scheduled to unveil details in Helsinki later on Sunday.

See the announcement of the historic peace deal

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