AUSTRALIA-PAPUA NEW GUINEA BORDER PROBLEMS

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CANBERRA, Australia (March 1, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---A United Nations agency says that Australia has one of the highest rates of marijuana use in the world and that high potency cannabis from Papua New Guinea is a contributing factor.

PNG, too, has high level marijuana consumption, the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board reports.

The agency recommends that regional governments tighten anti-drug laws and increase cooperation to combat drug trafficking.

As a result, the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia, PACNEWS reports, are discussing ways of increasing cooperation to fight cross-border smuggling through the Torres Strait.

Police in both countries are concerned about the level of drugs and arms smuggled and the flow of illegal immigrants crossing between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Australia's Minister for Justice, Amanda Vanstone, says the Torres Strait remains Australia's most vulnerable border.

Discussions are continuing with Papua New Guinea regarding expanded cross-border controls, she stresses, adding that Australian customs will be provided with increased resources, including new patrol boats.

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