SEOUL: Prior to the Korean-Pacific Islands Leaders (Kor-Pic) Meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Marape joined other PIC Leaders for a breakfast caucus Chaired by Cook Islands Prime Minister and current Pacific Islands Forum Chair Hon. Mark Brown, to discuss the agenda and a common position on shared development issues.
Prime Minister Marape said climate variation, being the perennial issue including sourcing appropriate development assistance from the Korean Government was high on the agenda.
He said the encouragement during the caucus was for all PIC Leaders to discuss their developmental challenges and put forward their ideas on how Korean Development assistance could complement the 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy.
Following this caucus, Prime Minister Marape, met with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Richard Marles.
Their discussions were centered around progress of the proposed Bilateral Security Treaty (BST), the recently concluded Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, Visa issues and the PNG NRL Bid.
On the BST, Prime Minister Marape mentioned that it was work in progress and required the PNG side to consult our domestic processes and sovereign laws in relation to certain wordings and provisions.
He also conveyed his apologies to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for the delay in formalising this proposed Treaty with Australia
For the DCA with the US, Prime Minister Marape informed that it was centered around improving the PNGDF’s capabilities and interoperability including protecting our frontiers and sovereignty.
He said it was non-discriminatory and PNG was open to entering into similar arrangements with its bilateral partners.
“In fact, the DCA would also complement domestic law enforcement,” Prime Minister Marape said.
“The Ship Rider Agreement on the other hand was also vital in combating illegal fishing and transnational crimes.”
For Visa issues, Deputy Prime Minister Marles informed that the current Australian Government was fully aware of the situation and following the Ministerial Forum in February this year in Canberra, had established a Joint Ministerial Team to work on bringing the Australian visa processing facility back on shore to PNG.
Prime Minister Marape in his response said that all processes from both sides had to be attended to in order for smooth facilitation and for citizens and businesses to continue without much hindrance now and heading into 2025 when PNG celebrates 50 years of nationhood.
On Papua New Guinea’s NRL Bid, Prime Minister Marape explained that PNG was still very keen as rugby league was a major unifying factor, bringing our 800 tribes together as one people.
In closing Prime Minister Marape assured Deputy Prime Minister Marles that PNG in no way would compromise its excellent existing bilateral relations with Australia and further stressed that PNG was capable of managing its sovereign affairs on its terms, systems and processes.