In a brief message yesterday, Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu responded to an Indonesian spokesman's claims by Indonesia's First Secretary for Political Affairs in Australia that West Papua's 'game is up'.
Radio New Zealand reported earlier this week that Mr Sade Bimantara said that the "United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid to be a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead group has reached a dead end."
In the interview with RNZI's Johnny Blades, Mr Bimantara opined "I don't think they qualify to be a full member of the MSG. They are not a state, and as opposed to Kanaks, they are not on the C24 (UN) Decolonisation Committee, they are not on the list, West Papua. And also the separatist group does not obtain full support from all the West Papuans. And West Papua and Papua is also politically free, so there's no reason for the MSG to accept them as full members."
This was disputed yesterday by Vanuatu's Foreign Minister. In an email exchange with the Daily Post, Mr Regenvanu wrote, "Well, that's for the MSG Leaders to decide once the application is presented to them.
"Technically, the ULMWP can meet the new criteria just agreed upon."
The issue, he wrote, would not be decided by the technicalities outlined by Indonesia's spokesman. "The question is only whether a political compromise can be achieved by the MSG Leaders before the next Summit at which the application for membership will be considered."
"Vanuatu is working on achieving this political compromise," he concluded.
Mr Regenvanu has been an outspoken supporter of West Papuan Independence movement. One of his last acts as Lands Minister before he took up the Foreign Affairs portfolio was to facilitate a grant of land to provide the United Liberation Movement for West Papua a permanent headquarters in Port Vila.
A ULMWP statement following the announcement of Mr Regenvanu's appointment to the portfolio said that it "is certainly a very effective state policy closely linked to the direction of the effective support of... Vanuatu for the West Papuan independence struggle."