Papua New Guinean’s relationship with other nations including China, will not be impacted in any way from a Defence Cooperation Agreement that will be signed with the United States (US), as the agreement is merely to protect the country’s waters from illegal activities.
Prime Minister (PM) James Marape when addressing the media this week, made it clear that the country’s bilateral relationship with other nations will remain the same despite the upcoming defence agreement, which is for the Ship Rider Program where local law enforcement officers are allowed to embark on U.S.
Coast Guard vessels, including boarding and searching suspected vessels. “I want to give assurance to our country; it is nothing to be skeptical about.
This agreement doesn’t stop us to relate to other countries in as far as having similar treaties or similar defence cooperation with all other nations around us,” said PM Marape.
“I just want to inform everyone that it will be transparent. Parliament will be privy to what we are signing.”
“At the moment our entire foreign affairs team has been leading the negotiations and we’re at a stage where we’re almost at the signing.”
He said the Ship Rider Agreement doesn’t mean a full-on military involvement or changes to legislations affecting bilateral relationships, it is to secure the coastal areas, the high seas and the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in PNG waters from illegal activities like drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal fishing and sea piracy.
The agreement is expected to be signed by the US Secretary of State Mr. Antony Blinken during the upcoming Forum for India- Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) in Port Moresby.