"These are the first talks. We hope this is the beginning of the
end of the problem," Indonesia's chief welfare minister Aburizal
Bakrie told reporters after a meeting with Jouwe. Bakrie said
that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had ordered efforts to
resolve the problems in Papua after his administration's success
in brokering a peace deal in Aceh.

The resource-rich province of Aceh suffered a three-decade civil
war before a peace deal was reached in 2005.

Asked about whether he was committed to ending the independence
struggle, Jouwe said: "We are close nations. We have already
been created like this. We cannot live without considering each

An Indonesian official said talks in the Netherlands had covered
pledges to fight corruption, guarantees for religious rights in
the province with a large Christian population and a request for
Indonesia to consider releasing OPM prisoners.

Jouwe is due to meet President Yudhoyono and visit Papua at the

Papua, which occupies the western half of New Guinea island, was
under Dutch colonial rule until 1963, when Indonesia took over.
Jakarta formalised its rule in 1969 in a vote by community
leaders which was widely criticised as flawed.

Independence activists in Papua have waged a campaign for nearly
40 years to break away from Indonesia, while a low-level armed
rebellion has also simmered, often related to disputes over the
sharing of rich natural resources.

Yudhoyono, who is seeking a second term in office this year, has
promised to end conflict in Papua and speed up development but
critics say rights abuses continue and little has been achieved
under the 2001 special autonomy agreement for Papua. (Reporting
by Telly Nathalia; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Bill Tarrant)