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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 19) - Preparations are underway on an Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border post where Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will open a new highway.

Indonesian national news agency Antara News has reported work to complete the construction of a border immigration office and two helipads was underway, near the Skouw Sae village in Papua’s Muara Tami district and within vicinity of Wutung village on the PNG side.

Yudhoyono and Sir Michael are expected to meet there next Wednesday to open a newly constructed highway linking the two countries. However, an official from the Department of the Prime Minister and NEC yesterday said the opening has been deferred indefinitely.

Parliament will begin sitting from next Tuesday.

The Indonesian news agency said the Indonesian government has completed construction of new border check points and military border posts in areas along the 750 km border -- which has come under extra scrutiny lately by both the PNG and Indonesian governments following the capture of illegal immigrants as well as West Papuans fleeing violence in the restive Indonesian province.

A recent visit to the border by PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) commander Commodore Peter Ilau uncovered a lapse in security, when it was revealed there was a lack of police presence at the border every day between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. the next day. The PNGDF has agreed to help police boost border security and will send soldiers to man the border post.

July 20, 2006

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

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