PNG and Australia sign off on Manus base, police programme

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister has signed an agreement with his Australian counterpart for a joint naval base on Manus island.

Peter O’Neill met with Scott Morrison for bilateral discusions yesterday in Canberra.

They have agreed to reactivate the Lombrum naval base in PNG’s Manus Province as a Joint Naval base.

Mr Morrison said the joint base would further enhance the inter-operability between the two countries’ defence forces and provide for increased Australian ship visits.

He said it would also complement Australia’s co-operation with PNG through the Pacific Maritime Security Programme.

Mr O’Neill said as well as providing economic security and surveillance around PNG’s vast maritime areas, the arrangement would prevent illicit trading, drug smuggling and fishing.

As well, the leaders announced a new long-term police development program between the Australian Federal Police and the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

According to Mr O’Neill, the police programme was a continuation of the existing AFP programme in PNG, “but with some refinement, particularly with a focus on frontline policing”.

The two governments would soon have detailed discussions on infrastructure development for the Manus naval base, as well as mentoring and training programmes.

Furthermore, the leaders have agreed that there will be a new annual leaders’ meeting held alternatively between cities in both countries.

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