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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 9, 2002

Statement by the President

I congratulate the Government of Indonesia and the Leadership of the Free Aceh Movement on the peace agreement signed on December 9th. The United States strongly supports this courageous effort to end a conflict that has cost thousands of innocent lives in Aceh and torn at the fabric of Indonesia for almost three decades. I commend President Megawati and the people of Aceh for choosing the path of reconciliation over the path of violence. I applaud the determined efforts of the Henri Dunant Center which made this agreement possible.

The United States strongly supports the agreement's monitoring mechanisms, which will ensure that both sides follow through on their commitments. We welcome decisions by the Governments of Thailand and the Philippines to deploy monitors in support of that mission. To reinforce the peace, the United States will work closely with Japan, Australia, and Indonesia's other partners in the coming months to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for Aceh.

Today's agreement demonstrates that Indonesia's efforts to fight terror and maintain a united Indonesian nation are fully compatible with principled efforts to address legitimate political grievances. The agreement offers the hope of greater autonomy and respect for the people of Aceh. I call on all parties to the agreement to faithfully meet their commitments and build the better future that all peace-loving Indonesians expect and deserve.

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