19 Sep 2003

PNG and Australia agree posting of police and officials in PNG

10:51 am on 19 September 2003

Papua New Guinea has signed a joint agreement to consider a proposal to send hundreds of Australian police and officials to Papua New Guinea.

The Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says if the proposals are agreed to by the Australian-PNG Ministerial Forum they would be implemented immediately and police could be sent by January next year.

Mr Downer and his PNG counterpart Sir Rabbie Namiliu signed the agreement in Port Moresby yesterday.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby Peter Niesi says there was no sign of the acrimony that has dominated relations between the two countries over the past month.

"Mr Downer indicated that the more talks and clarifications there had been, the more understanding there had been. Sir Rabbie said that once they had heard what Mr Downer had to say in relation to the Australian proposals, they realised that it was the same thing that the Somare/Marauta government used as a policy platform."