Papua New Guinea on high-level itinerary

THE COUNTRY’S foreign minister is expected to sign an economic cooperation deal on a visit to Papua New Guinea, just days before Australia’s prime minister arrives to mark historical defence ties by walking a famous World War II trail.

The high-level visits underscore the competition between China and United States allies for influence in the strategically located Pacific Islands.

Papua New Guinea sees itself as a buffer between Asia and the Pacific Ocean and is balancing trade with China and a defence deal that gives the US military access to its ports and airports.

Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko said yesterday that his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will arrive on Saturday for a two-day visit.

Officials have been working to finalise economic cooperation agreements to be signed during Wang’s visit, Tkatchenko said in a statement.

Papua New Guinea earlier this year ruled out police cooperation with China, after Beijing offered to assist its police force.

It signed a A$200mil (RM615.2mil) security deal with Australia last year to boost policing, after signing a defence agreement with the United States last May. — Reuters

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