PNG Eager For Closer Ties, Cooperation With Indonesia

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PM O’Neill to push for associate membership in MSG

By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 13, 2015) – The Government will push for Indonesia to become an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to encourage greater participation of its 11 million West Papuans in cultural, trade and investment opportunities with their Melanesian wantoks.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said this yesterday during the signing of an understanding to fight transnational crime and cooperate in human resource capacity building in the exploration of oil and energy.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Mr O’Neill, after their bilateral talks, witnessed the signing of the two MOUs between PNG’s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi. "We have agreed on several arrangements including the signing of the two MOUs on transnational crimes and energy agreements which the two countries will further develop those opportunities into the future," Mr O’Neill said.

"We have also agreed for Papua New Guinea’s support for Indonesia to become an associate member of the MSG which PNG will gladly endorse and pursue with the other leaders of the Melanesian Group," Mr O’Neill said.

"This will again allow our five Melanesian provinces that Indonesia will come under to allow them to participate in cultural and trade and investment engagement with the Melanesian countries in the region.

"This will also enable Melanesian people to participate in sporting events and other activities of cultural significance which will further strengthen our own relationship together with our Melanesian 11 or so million people on the Indonesian side of our border.

"We further agreed to strengthen economic activities especially along the border region and Indonesia is again heavily investing in the infrastructure in those provinces, of which we would like to have access to particularly in telecommunication, power generation and of course the road infrastructure that is being built there opening up opportunities for Papua New Guinea to do business and further engage with our Melanesians on the other side of the border."

President Widodo said the two leaders have agreed to increase cooperation in various economic sectors to encourage trade beyond the border markers.

He said they agreed to also encourage strengthening cooperation in investment and infrastructure development as well as encourage participation of private sectors in energy, telecommunication, forestry and fisheries.

"We have also agreed to increase our connectivity and I am also delighted with the Garuda Indonesia and Air Niugini agreement to code share for the Port Moresby-Denpasar as well as Port Moresby-Singapore-Jakarta," Mr Widodo said.

"We have also agreed for Papua New Guinea’s support for Indonesia to become an associate member of the MSG which PNG will gladly endorse and pursue with the other leaders of the Melanesian Group," Mr O’Neill said.

"This will again allow our five Melanesian provinces that Indonesia will come under to allow them to participate in cultural and trade and investment engagement with the Melanesian countries in the region.

"This will also enable Melanesian people to participate in sporting events and other activities of cultural significance which will further strengthen our own relationship together with our Melanesian 11 or so million people on the Indonesian side of our border.

"We further agreed to strengthen economic activities especially along the border region and Indonesia is again heavily investing in the infrastructure in those provinces, of which we would like to have access to particularly in telecommunication, power generation and of course the road infrastructure that is being built there opening up opportunities for Papua New Guinea to do business and further engage with our Melanesians on the other side of the border."

President Widodo said the two leaders have agreed to increase cooperation in various economic sectors to encourage trade beyond the border markers.

He said they agreed to also encourage strengthening cooperation in investment and infrastructure development as well as encourage participation of private sectors in energy, telecommunication, forestry and fisheries.

"We have also agreed to increase our connectivity and I am also delighted with the Garuda Indonesia and Air Niugini agreement to code share for the Port Moresby-Denpasar as well as Port Moresby-Singapore-Jakarta," Mr Widodo said.

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