Indonesia signs truce with separatist rebels

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Indonesia and separatist rebels from Aceh yesterday signed a three-month ceasefire agreement in the first step towards ending 24 years of conflict in the north-western Indonesian province.

Indonesia and separatist rebels from Aceh yesterday signed a three-month ceasefire agreement in the first step towards ending 24 years of conflict in the north-western Indonesian province.

But the agreement, made in talks at a secret location around Geneva, does not tackle the issue of sovereignty. Separatists have seized on the example of East Timor to push for an independence referendum.

Jakarta still rules out recognition for the separatists, and said the agreement would not lead to a withdrawal of Indonesian troops from Aceh.

There have been fears that Indonesia could disintegrate after the East Timor referendum voted to split from Jakarta, and encouraged separatists in Aceh and elsewhere. About 5,000 people have been killed in the gas-rich region in the last decade, including 345 this year.

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