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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 5) - Papua New Guinea and United States citizens accused of crimes committed in each other’s countries will face justice in their respective countries.

This is the effect of PNG Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu signing the controversial Article 98 Agreement under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell last week.

The signing obliges PNG to have any U.S. citizens involved in crimes against humanity to be surrendered to the United States instead of facing the international court in The Hague, Netherlands.

The U.S. Government would reciprocate if the reverse happened involving a PNG citizen.

Sir Rabbie said PNG is not a party to the Rome Statute which has jurisdiction over specific crimes such as genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity and aggression, but may still be required or requested to surrender accused persons of PNG or American nationality to the ICC.

The signing of the agreement happened at a first meeting since Independence in 1975 for a PNG Foreign Affairs Minister to have an audience with a U.S. Secretary of State.

"This is the first time that a Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea has visited Washington, D.C. since Independence to meet with the Secretary of State and senior officials of the United States Department of State," said Sir Rabbie, following the meeting in Washington, D.C. last Thursday.

Sir Rabbie, during discussions with Powell and other State Department officials, briefed the Americans on developments taking place in Bougainville and the status of the Bougainville peace process.

Sir Rabbie also discussed other bilateral issues and programs such as the U.S. Peace Corps and the Fullbright Scholarship programs and how these programs could be re-introduced in PNG, the Millennium Challenge Account, initiated by President George W. Bush, international and regional security issues.

Sir Rabbie also briefed Powell on the state of PNG’s economy and development issues generally.

Sir Rabbie also met with the regional Vice President of the World Bank Mr. Kassum, and director of the U.S. Peace Corps Mr. Vasquez regarding their respective development programs for PNG.

October 6, 2004

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