The date 15 August 1962 is significant in the history of the people of the western half of the island of New Guinea, the place commonly called West Papua. On that date the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which had occupied the territory since the nineteenth century, and the Republic of Indonesia signed what was called the New York Agreement. For some years, Indonesian president Sukarno had been pushing hard for the territory to be handed over by the Dutch, but the Netherlands was not keen to agree. Under pressure from John F. Kennedy’s administration, which wanted to keep Indonesia as a friend of the West, the Netherlands, which had been preparing the people of Western New Guinea for independence, agreed to hand over the territory, first to a UN Temporary Executive Authority and then to the Republic of Indonesia.
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