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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 27, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, said in Papua New Guinea's capital of Port Moresby today that the Australian government as well as Australian businesses have a history of being too paternalistic when it comes to dealing with other countries in the Pacific Islands region.

He also noted that Australian foreign aid to Papua New Guinea, in the past, was used for political purposes rather than to help develop the country's economy, for which it was intended.

Downer made the comments at the beginning of meetings with members of the new government of PNG Prime Minister Bill Skate.

PNG's Foreign Minister, Kilroy Genia, said he appreciated his counterpart Australian Foreign Minister recognizing that Australia was sometimes patronizing to other countries. Genia also acknowledged that the relationship between the two countries had been rocky over the past 18 months, but said it was maintained by good personal contacts.

Downer, who dinned with Skate Tuesday night, also said that the PNG leader supported moves to tie $240,000,000 in Australian aid to specific projects by the year 2000. The previous government of Sir Julius Chan had argued strongly for the freeing up of all aid. It led to tension between the two countries with Chan saying the aid money "boomeranged" back to Australian businesses.

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