Prime Minister Hon. James Marape has responded to recent assertions made by Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill regarding his overseas travel plans. He affirmed that his overseas engagements are for national interests and he is not wasting time or money contrary to O’Neill’s assertion and past practises.
“As a sovereign nation, representations at important international meetings are at Head of Government level, hence, I travel long hours with no rest in between to attend these meeting,” Prime Minister Marape said.
“For this upcoming trip next week to Washington DC, I was personally invited by U.S. President H.E. Joe Biden to attend the 2nd U.S.-Pacific Islands Forum Summit. With many outstanding bilateral issues with USA, it is absolutely necessary I travel to ensure PNG’s national interests take precedence in Washington DC.”
In addressing O’Neill’s claims, Prime Minister Marape clarified his position today, stating firmly that his international travel is not an attempt to evade the challenges facing the country. He underscored his dedication to fulfilling his responsibilities as the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and expressed full confidence in State Enterprises Minister Hon. William Duma, who will assume the role of Acting Prime Minister during his absence. This arrangement has been put in place due to the unavailability of Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Rosso, who is currently abroad.
“I want to emphasise that I am neither fleeing from our country’s issues nor casually touring the globe. I am fulfilling my duties as the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea,” Prime Minister Marape stated.
Highlighting the importance of international engagements, he continued, “When our valued bilateral partners invite us to participate in significant international gatherings, such as the 2nd U.S.-Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Washington DC, I believe it is essential for us to attend.”
Prime Minister Marape elaborated on the circumstances surrounding his attendance, saying, “President Biden, who had intended to visit Port Moresby earlier this year but had to cancel at the last minute, personally requested my presence at the summit. My initial plan was for Deputy Prime Minister Hon. John Rosso, currently attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, to represent PNG in Washington DC. However, the White House insisted on my attendance.”
He assured the public, “I will travel to Washington DC, participate in the two-day summit, and promptly return to Papua New Guinea afterward.”
Addressing his recent international travels, which included visits to Israel, Indonesia, and France earlier this month, Prime Minister Marape asserted that such journeys are undertaken with the best interests of Papua New Guinea in mind. “I remain dedicated to working diligently while abroad and promptly returning to our country,” he emphasised.
In conclusion, Prime Minister Marape conveyed, “Traveling abroad does not stall the progress of our nation. We have a capable Acting Prime Minister, supported by our ministers and public service, who ensure the continuity of government affairs. The leadership of our nation, unlike the past, is a collective effort led by a cohesive team.”