YAKI WORRIED NEW GOVERNMENT MAY REVERSE TIES WITH TAIWAN

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By Neville Togarewa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 13, 1999 – The National)---Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Roy Yaki is concerned that a new government may reverse the PNG decision to establish full diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

"I'm concerned about the timing, but I really hope it will be seen in the proper perspective.

"On my part and the group I represent, should we continue, there is no turning back, let me assure you," he told reporters at a press conference on Friday.

Mr. Yaki said negotiations would continue for a Development Cooperation Treaty which, if signed, would be PNG's first with an Asian country.

He said he would not release details of the financial package between PNG and Taiwan because he did not have that information.

"The press is saying we've been given so much money, but this is based on the appreciation of the problems we are faced with in PNG and the keenness and interest shown by the government of Taiwan on what is possible for them to do in terms of assisting us," Mr. Yaki said.

"Does that amount to bribery? Does that amount to trading diplomatic recognition for money? No, it does not. It is based on the mutual understanding of what potential there is. That's the name of the game today, promoting trade, development, selling your products, inviting skills, things like that."

Mr. Yaki was asked what he and Prime Minister Bill Skate offered to the Taiwanese government in Taipei last week.

He said: "You know the problems of this country. You expect your leaders to do the right thing, to look for opportunities. That's our job, but it does not mean that we are going to go and sell ourselves. I urge you to think nationalistic here.

"We are fighting a common enemy and that common enemy is those who want to make sure PNG remains a backyard. That's our number one enemy. And I am reminding you of the gold fields that are empty so that other cities can prosper, other towns can develop, tourism can flourish while PNG (remains a backyard)."

Mr. Yaki said Australia and China should appreciate why the PNG Government had decided to recognize Taiwan.

"We cannot decide for them and we hope we are not creating enemies. There is a lot of hypocrisy in all international relationships. I mean, why should Australia announce to the world and say this is wrong? What's the basis? Maybe PNG's interest is secondary. It could be primarily for their own products to be sold in China. So you see what amounts to national interest, which PNG has to decide for itself?"

Asked what prevented PNG from seeking financial help from Taiwan without promising recognition, Mr. Yaki said: "We could consider doing that but I have worked on this for the last 18 months and I know what adds up in this relationship."

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