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Indonesian Govt, Aceh Rebels Sign Tentative Agreement on Truce

The Indonesian government and Aceh rebels reached a groundbreaking tentative agreement Sunday to end a 30-year-old conflict and plan to formally sign a truce on Aug. 15 in Helsinki, Finland.

A joint statement by Jakarta and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) said that the peace agreement covers the governing of Aceh, including GAM participation in the political process, human rights, amnesty, GAM members' reintegration into society, security arrangements, dispute settlement, and the establishment of observer missions to monitor the Aceh peace process.

The Indonesian government has invited the European Union and some ASEAN countries to help monitor the truce.

The statement stressed that the two sides will strive to maintain the trust established between them and take responsibility for a complete and peaceful solution to the Aceh conflict.

Both sides believe that only through a nonviolent settlement of the Aceh conflict can a peaceful reconstruction in the tsunami-hit region be ensured, the statement said.

The ongoing round of talks, which began on Tuesday and which are the fifth held in the Finnish capital this year, had been considered a last chance to bring an end to the bloodshed soon.

The violence has hampered the exploitation of Aceh's rich natural gas deposits and distribution of humanitarian aid for tsunami victims.

GAM has waged a guerrilla war since 1976, accusing Jakarta of exploiting the impoverished province's rich resources and demanding the establishment of an independent Islamic country. More than 12,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since then.

(Xinhua News Agency July 18, 2005)

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