Mon, 17 Jan 2000

Dutch foreign minister here on two-day visit

JAKARTA (JP): Dutch foreign minister Jozias Van Aartsen arrived here for a two-day visit on Sunday evening to acquaint himself with Indonesia's new Cabinet and to seek clarification on the ongoing violence in Maluku.

"The visit is to get acquainted with the new government and discuss what will be the future of the relationship of the two countries," Anne Van Leeuwen, the first secretary for press and cultural affairs of the Dutch Embassy here, said earlier this week.

Van Aartsen will meet Indonesian foreign minister Alwi Shihab on Monday morning and later with Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri. On Tuesday afternoon Van Aartsen will also meet with President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Other officials whom he is due to meet are Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security Gen. Wiranto, Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais and House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung.

"In those meetings, minister Jozias will also have a discussion about the situation in Maluku province, which concerns many parties in the Netherlands," Anne said.

As Indonesia's former colonial ruler, the Netherlands continues to have a vested, if not historical, interest in developments here.

Large numbers of supporters of the separatist South Maluku Republic (RMS) rebellion fled to Holland after their uprising was crushed in the 1960s and 1970s.

Before he leaves Jakarta, Van Aartsen will pay homage to deceased Dutch soldiers buried at the Menteng Pulo Cemetery in Central Jakarta. (04)