Prime Minister Hon. James Marape today (27.07.23) met with the United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III as Papua New Guinea and USA continue to work at taking their deepening bilateral relation to the next level.
The visit by Secretary Austin to Port Moresby and his meeting with PM Marape is a follow-up to the signing of two significant agreements – the Defense Cooperation Agreement and the Shiprider Agreement – between the two countries in May this year, undertaken by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and PNG Defense Minster Hon. Win Daki in Port Moresby.
At today’s bilateral meeting, Prime Minister Marape and Secretary Austin continued to discuss the details and the benefits of the agreements, and United States’ commitment to securing PNG’s sovereignty, as well as its commitment to securing a free and peaceful Indo-Pacific region.
Prime Minister Marape said he appreciated the US’s “3D approach of Diplomacy and Defense followed by Development”, that is being seen in the recent engagements, and the upcoming visit of the head of USAID to Port Moresby to formally signal this office to report directly to Washington DC instead of through the Manila, Philippines office.
“I take special note of the purpose of Secretary Austin’s visit which is to show commitment in defense and security following the singing of the Defense Cooperation Agreement and the Shiprider Agreement during Secretary Blinken’s visit in PNG in May this year,” PM Marape said.
“The DCA heralds a new chapter in PNG and USA relations, as these agreements form the basis for strengthening and consolidating closer cooperation between our two countries.
“One of the key objectives of the PNG government is for our country to pursue and enhance closer trade and economic ties with key bilateral and multilateral partners, including with the United States under Biden’s leadership.
“In that connection, PNG views the US as a key partner to enhance and diversify trade and economic relations, either through a bilateral or a regional trade arrangement.
“Consistent with President Biden’s call and challenge to American corporations to develop cleaner technology, the Pacific Island region offers great investment opportunities for US companies through public-private partnerships,” said the Prime Minister.
PM Marape continued by promoting Papua New Guinea’s expanding potential in agriculture and the supply of fresh organic foods to the world, including the United States, while he encouraged the American business community to take more interest in PNG.
In Climate Change mitigation, also a security issue, Prime Minister Marape reminded the US government through Secretary Austin about the Pacific region’s continued vulnerability to rising sea levels and climate-induced natural calamities, and that all nations with interest in the Pacific must take collective action to follow through on general conversations that have been held repeatedly over time.
“While we invite the US to pursue its interests in the region from a geopolitical and geostrategic context, I urge the United States to adjust its lens so that it can truly understand the real needs of the region,” said PM Marape.
PM Marape also highlighted PNG’s impending 50th Independence Anniversary in 2025 and invited US partnership leading up to and its presence at this major national event.