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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 21, 2001 – The National)---PNG Ambassador to the United States Sir Nagora Bogan said yesterday that the Peace Corps’ withdrawal from PNG [over concerns about the safety of volunteers] added to growing concern about the United States’ attitude toward the Pacific region.

He said the U.S. had, over the past 10 years, scaled down its engagement and intervention in the Pacific region.

"Whilst acknowledging the adverse impact of the Peace Corps withdrawal and the consequential sentiments expressed by [Tourism Promotion Authority chairman] Sir Peter Barter [that news of the withdrawal would harm the industry], I believe it is also important for us in Papua New Guinea to take the cue and reflect where things have gone wrong," Sir Nagora said.

"We need to look at how we manage our Foreign Affairs Department and the constant indecision and gradual degeneration of our foreign affairs and the institution responsible for managing and implementing our foreign policy. We need to look at how we have not effectively leveraged our nation in geopolitical terms in order to cultivate and nurture strategic alliances with powerful and influential countries, including the USA."

Sir Nagora said PNG needed to also look deeply at how it can rein in the law and order situation. He said crime had rears its ugly head in international media and forums to haunt the country and perhaps was the number one factor that had done untold damage to PNG in the past 15 years.

"No matter how hard we try to rebut the negative press vibes on Papua New Guinea in the international media, the problem of law and order will still be there," Sir Nagora said. "I suggest, all things considered, we must as a nation, support our government to find ways to make a pronounced stand to hone and realign our foreign policy and our institution responsible for administering foreign policy.

"We must also find ways to reclaim our streets and communities in our main cities like Port Moresby, Lae, Mount Hagen and make them peaceful and safe so that all people can learn to coexist together to bring development and prosperity to our people and country. We must also, in concert with aspects of effective governance of our affairs, explore viable options to project a positive and upbeat, but also an honest and sincere image of our country and our people."

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

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