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Visit To Papua New Guinea


I will be making a short visit to Papua New Guinea on Saturday, 31 July.

My visit will follow that of the Treasurer, Mr Costello, on 28-29 July, and the Prime Minister's telephone call to Sir Mekere Morauta on 21 July.

I will take the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta (who is also the Minister responsible for Bougainville Affairs in the Cabinet announced on 26 July) and the new Foreign Minister, Sir Michael Somare.

The main purpose of my visit is to assure Sir Mekere and his government of Australia's support for the economic and other reforms he has announced - including Papua New Guinea's welcome commitment to re-engage with the IMF and World Bank - and to discuss what practical assistance Australia may provide in support of these reforms.

Australia's new aid treaty with Papua New Guinea will play a key role in this regard.

I also hope to discuss the importance of continued commitment to the peace process in Bougainville. Australia continues to be a major supporter of the process through our extensive program of development assistance and through our contribution to the multinational Peace Monitoring Group.

Good progress was made under former Prime Minister Skate, and it is important that momentum is maintained so that the parties' wish for lasting peace can be achieved.

The visit will also serve to underline the importance of the relationship on both sides: in trade, investment, defence co-operation and in a mutual commitment to regional prosperity and security. Strong links also exist at the personal and community level. I have a high regard for Sir Mekere's skills and integrity, and I look forward to a close working relationship with him and his new government.

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