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PNG Prime Minister promises that no country can divide the “family” relationship between PNG and Australia

Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape told the Australian Parliament on Thursday (February 8) that Papua New Guinea’s economic growth will make Australia safer, stressing that “nothing will come between our two countries.” There is a gap because we are a family.”

Marape is visiting Australia, arriving at the federal parliament in Canberra on Thursday. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese greeted him at the gate. Marape and delivered a speech to the Australian Parliament. This is the first time a Pacific Island leader has addressed the Australian Parliament.

Marape told the Australian Parliament that Papua New Guinea (referred to as “PNG”) needs to develop into a self-sufficient economy.

Marape said: “Papua New Guinea cannot continue to be a country that receives aid and grants, a country that relies on borrowing every year to survive. We must become a self-reliant, economically independent, and strong country. In this way, we can also help Australia in our Pacific region safeguard democracy, peace, and stability.”

Australia and China are vying for influence in the Pacific, and PNG is a strategic location in that contest. China signed a controversial security agreement with PNG’s neighboring Solomon Islands in 2022, triggering regional concerns about China’s military buildup in the region.

Recently, China has also offered to provide training and equipment to the PNG police force. News of preliminary negotiations between the two sides has attracted attention, but the PNG Foreign Minister stated this week that he has no intention of signing an agreement.

Beijing’s proposal has set off alarms in Australia because it could see Chinese security personnel deployed to PNG, which is just a few dozen kilometers from its closest point on Australia’s north coast.

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U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma, who visited the South Pacific last week, urged PNG to reject potential Chinese security deals and warned the Pacific nation that any security assurances with Beijing would have consequences and costs.

PNG Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) before accompanying Marape to Australia that PNG would not sign a new police agreement, adding that China “understood” PNG No agreement will be signed.

Tkachenko said: “China understands our position on security issues in the region, which is to cooperate with our close traditional partners such as Australia, the United States, and New Zealand.”

“I want to make this very clear. We are not advancing any security agreement or agreement with China at all.” Tkachenko added, “We look forward to implementing the bilateral security agreement with Australia.”

Marape held high the traditional relationship between PNG and Australia in his speech to Parliament, emphasizing that “in a world where many countries have many relationships, nothing will come between our two countries because we are one family. Through tears, blood, pain, and sacrifice.”

Marape focused on strengthening his country’s economic resilience: “A strong, economically empowered Papua New Guinea means a stronger, more secure Australia and the Pacific.”

Marape and Albanese also held a leadership meeting on Thursday. They discussed defense and security issues, with Australia investing in strengthening PNG’s internal security and ties between the two defense forces deepening, according to a statement after the meeting. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the region’s existing security architecture and looked forward to consulting with other Pacific leaders to further build regional policing capabilities.

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The Pacific island nation signed separate security agreements with the United States and Australia last year. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited PNG last year, and the two countries signed a “Defense Cooperation Agreement” (DCA), which includes strengthening PNG’s defense infrastructure and capabilities. , and allowed the US military to be stationed at Papua New Guinea airports and ports.

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