PNG PRIME MINISTER O’NEILL AT CANBERRA FORUM

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To meet Australian counterpart for bilateral talks

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 12, 2011) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his delegation arrived in Canberra yesterday for a two-day working visit.

Mr. O’Neill’s Australian visit is at the invitation of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and coincides with the three-day annual PNG-Australia Joint Ministerial Forum from the October 11-13.

Mr. O’Neill’s Canberra program began with a wreath-laying ceremony and a tour of the Australian War Memorial.

The Prime Minister was also the guest of honour at a ceremony hosted by the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Memorial Society where he pledged PNG’s contribution of A$100,000 towards the construction of a sculpture in memory of 1053 Australian servicemen, who were held as World War II prisoners of War in Rabaul, in 1942.

The servicemen lost their lives on the ill-fated Montevideo Maru on July 1, 1942 when the Japanese troop carrier was torpedoed by an American submarine in Philippines waters by accident. Mr. O’Neill also planted a tree at the Australian War Memorial to mark his first official visit to Canberra.

Today, Mr. O’Neill will be received at the Australian Federal Parliament by the Australian Prime Minister Gillard, with an official guard of honour in the parliamentary forecourt.

Prime Ministers O’Neill and Gillard will then hold bilateral talks and Mr. O’Neill will later attend a lunch hosted in his honour by his Australian counterpart.

Mr. O’Neill will also present a special lecture on "Revitalising PNG-Australia Relations" at ANU.

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