Australian Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston today met with Dr Fabian Pok, Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Defence, for the inaugural Australia-Papua New Guinea Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
“This was my first meeting with Dr Pok, and we had valuable discussions on how Australia and Papua New Guinea can work together to advance our mutual security interests,” Senator Johnston said.
“I am also pleased to announce that Australia intends to gift Papua New Guinea one Royal Australian Navy Landing Craft Heavy in 2014.
“The Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) will assist the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Maritime Element to develop a strengthened sealift capability.”
Senator Johnston noted that Papua New Guinea is Australia’s closest neighbour, and that the two nations are longstanding and natural defence partners.
“Australia and Papua New Guinea share many areas of mutual security concern and our defence forces have worked cooperatively over many years,” Senator Johnston said.
“The signing of a Defence Cooperation Arrangement in May this year reflects the evolution of our relationship to a genuine defence partnership, and has strengthened our relationship.”
Senator Johnston said that the arrangement complements Australia’s expanding Defence Cooperation Program with Papua New Guinea, which, at $25 million, is Australia’s largest.
Dr Pok will spend three days in Australia and will also attend the Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum on 11 December.
Dr Pok is travelling with Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Brigadier General Francis Agwi, and Papua New Guinea Secretary of Defence, Mr John Porti.
Press Release, December 10, 2013; Image: Australian MoD