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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 8, 1999 - Post-Courier)---Prime Minister Bill Skate yesterday defended his government's decision to formalize diplomatic ties with Taiwan, saying his predecessors were "gutless.''

He said details of the Taiwan deal would be announced when Foreign Affairs Minister Roy Yaki returned to PNG.

Referring to the Taiwan controversy in which he is believed to have negotiated for a $US 2.3 billion (K 6 billion) deal for PNG, Mr. Skate said: "I have also returned from Taiwan. It's not a new thing. All the leaders have been talking about it but had no guts to make the decision.''

He said it was a decision he made on behalf of the people of PNG in line with the Look North policy and the policy to be "friends to all, enemies to none.''

Mr. Skate responded angrily to pressures by Australia for PNG to forego diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

He said PNG was not another Australian state to be dictated to by Australia.

"I'm sad to say that Australia thinks Papua New Guinea is their state,'' he said.

"Australians think they have to continue dictating to us. They must now understand that Papua New Guinea is more mature. It's a sovereign state. They must respect our views.

"Australians are equally trading with Taiwan and why shouldn't we go further to strengthen our relations with that region?''

His choice of words may also be read with meanings he did not intend.

Said Mr. Skate: "It's got nothing to do with Australians influencing me.

"It is sad that Australians are putting up Mekere Morauta. Papua New Guineans should decide who should be the prime minister.''

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).


TAIPEI, Taiwan (July 9, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Taiwan has threatened to impose trade sanctions against Australia after Canberra tried to stop Papua New Guinea (PNG) from switching diplomatic recognition from Beijing to Taipei.

Taiwan’s United Evening news reports the country’s foreign ministry is drafting trade sanction measures, under which Taiwan may switch its iron ore sourcing from Australia to PNG.

Taiwan imported more than $1.5 billion worth of goods from Australia during the first five months of this year.

Foreign ministry acting spokesman Henry Chen said PNG is rich in natural resources and stepping up purchase from allies is one of the directions that could be considered.

Taiwan established diplomatic ties with PNG through an agreement signed last week.

Former Prime Minister Bill Skate, who resigned yesterday, said an embassy would be opened in Port Moresby soon.

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