Papua New Guinea
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US to bolster PNG security

BY GORETHY KENNETH

Washington will further deepen its existing defence relationship and modernise Papua New Guinea’s Defence Force and boost its interoperability, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said in Port Moresby yesterday.

During bilateral meetings with Prime Minister James Marape and the PNG Defence Council, Secretary Austin noted the bilateral efforts to bolster security cooperation and address shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

The leaders had a productive exchange of views on efforts to build capacity to provide humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, improve maritime domain awareness, combat climate change, and address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the region, including through the upcoming visit of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to Papua New Guinea as part of the Ship Rider agreement.

Secretary Austin also expressed his gratitude to Mr Marape and the PNG Defence Council for their support of the DCA and underscored his commitment to implementing the agreement after completion of the ratification process by the PNG government.

“We’re expanding US participation with several exercises with the PNGDF, we have also completed an important Ship Rider Agreement that will mean greater cooperation on maritime enforcement,” he said.

“This will help us tackle illegal fishing and trafficking in your country’s exclusive economic zone. We are not wasting any time.

“The US Coast Guard will be here in August to keep this program on. We also discussed the new DCA. It will deepen our ties, strengthen cooperation between our forces and help the United States further support the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The DCA will also accelerate our efforts and you continue to modernise your defence force that includes working together on investing in upgraded Defence facilities.

Mr Prime Minister, on behalf of President Biden, we thank you for your support of the DCA. And as your Parliament reviews the DCA I must reiterate our commitment to your country’s sovereignty and autonomy as we strengthen our mutually beneficial partnership.

“Finally, I want to acknowledge that back home, it is an historic day for the US military – 75 years ago, on July 26, 1948 President Harry S Truman signed two executive orders 9981 which ended segregation in the military –– that, for the first time, desegregated the US military and the federal workforce.”