Jakarta (ANTARA) - Vice President Ma'ruf Amin stated that New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon agrees to the Indonesian government's persuasive approach to free New Zealand Pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens.

Mehrtens has been held hostage by an armed separatist group since February 2023.

Amin made the statement after holding a bilateral meeting with Luxon at the New Zealand Parliament Building, Wellington, on Tuesday.

"I conveyed that Indonesia is committed to freeing him (Mehrtens), but we are prioritizing the safety of the pilot. Therefore, we are doing it with a persuasive approach," he remarked.

He noted that persuasive efforts are made by the Indonesian government to avoid the occurrence of untoward incidents.

"He (Luxon) agreed that the approach must be persuasive because these are sensitive things," the vice president remarked.

He stated that the Indonesian government understands the concerns of the New Zealand government, as Mehrtens is still held hostage.

Amin highlighted that the Indonesian government continues to apply a persuasive approach by involving community and church leaders.

On that occasion, he also stated that the option of involving foreign parties in other efforts to free the hostage had to be reconsidered owing to the sensitive nature of the issue.

Amin is also optimistic of continued intensive communication between the governments of Indonesia and New Zealand regarding efforts to free the pilot.

Mehrtens, a pilot from Susi Air, was abducted by the Egianus Kogoya-led armed group on February 7, 2023, shortly after landing in Paro, Nduga District, Papua Pegunungan Province.

The Indonesian government notified the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta a day after the incident and provided consular mission access since February 12, 2023.

Indonesia also facilitated the New Zealand Embassy to meet several Indonesian officials regarding efforts to free Mehrtens.

Translator: Andi Firdaus, Raka Adji
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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