PNG, Australia Resolve ‘Misunderstanding’ Over Bougainville

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O’Neill, Bishop also discuss resettlement of refugees

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 26, 2015) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says a "misunderstanding" had caused the row with Australia over its proposal to set up a diplomatic post on Bougainville.

O’Neill met Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop in Japan where they attended the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting and said the matter was being resolved.

"It was a misunderstanding that has been acknowledged and we will work it through," he said.

O’Neill was furious when Australia revealed its plan in its recent budget presentation without consulting Port Moresby.

The Government in retaliation last week restricted Australians from travelling to Bougainville.

Meanwhile, O’Neill warned that Papua New Guinea could not resettle refugees indefinitely, and called on Australia and other countries to address the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald at the Pacific Leaders Meeting in Japan that "we must get the leadership of Myanmar to account" over its treatment of the minority Rohingyas, who form a substantial part of the current Asian migration crisis.

PNG had signed an agreement with Australia to use Manus Island as a regional processing centre for asylum seekers.

O’Neill called on Australia to increase its own humanitarian intake to help tackle the soaring movement of people around the world fleeing persecution and conflict.

"Leaders in those countries need to be told that people in your community are not being looked after well and we need to work together in addressing that. Countries like Australia and the United States, the UK, and other developed countries like Japan must assist in addressing this crisis," he said.

Speaking before O’Neill’s comments, Bishop told Fairfax Media that Australia had "no plans" to take any of the Rohingyas beyond the current refugee intake.

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