Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between the United States of America and Papua New Guinea does not in any way encroach into the sovereignty of the country.
And he has assured Papua New Guineans that all aspects of the DCA will be made available to the public through a Parliamentary Statement that he will make.
“I am working to release the agreement for public knowledge, and on Thursday this week, we will send the State Solicitor and Foreign Affairs and Defence Secretaries, to go through the DCA with students and interest groups to ensure they are informed correctly.”
PM Marape said this during the historic signing of the DCA by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Minister Hon. Win Daki at APEC Haus in Port Moresby today (Monday, May 22, 2023).
“This agreement in no way encroaches into our sovereignty,” PM Marape said.
“We will, after this signing, inform all stakeholders and our citizens on all aspects of the agreement.
“It will be transparent and shown to everyone who has an interest in it.
“It in no way affects other defence cooperation agreements, defence relationships and bilateral relationships we already have with other countries.
“This is a straight two-way highway between the Pentagon and Murray Barracks, between Washington and Waigani, between USA and PNG.
“I am satisfied that this agreement will add value to and strengthen our economy going into the future.”
PM Marape said the DCA would also strengthen US-PNG relations going into the future.
“We have been important partners of the past,” PM Marape said.
“Our shared bonds and experiences have kept our two nations together until 2023, when we elevate this, in as far as our defence cooperation is concerned.
“We are elevating from what used to be a generic relationship under the 1989 Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) to a specific relationship with the United States people, government and defence force
“Papua New Guinea has a Visiting Forces Act of 1975 which allows for these agreements to be entered into.”
PM Marape said this law was born out of Section 206 of the Constitution and the DCA was done transparently and following proper processes. He said it was the result of many years of hard work by both countries.
“It is mutually beneficial, and in the PNG context, secures our national interest as we grow into a robust economy in this part of the world,” he said.
“I am very happy that we have reached this milestone and thank Secretary Blinken for his patience, as well as our State Solicitor, Department of Defence and Department of Foreign Affairs for their leadership.
“We have similar DCAs with countries like Indonesia and Australia, and ask our citizens not to panic or fear unnecessarily, in the midst of much misinformation being circulated.”