13 Mar 2004

PNG Army considering reconstruction and rebuilding role abroad

9:41 am on 13 March 2004

Papua New Guinea's Defence Ministry is preparing papers on the possibility of sending troops to join UN peacekeeping forces in world troublespots, including Iraq.

Defence spokesman Tim Patoe says there have been informal discussions between the Defence Minister Kappa Yarka and the US ambassador to PNG, at which the ambassador expressed an interest in the proposal.

He says PNG troops have proven themselves during recent service in the Solomons and the Defence Ministry is keen to widen their experience in non combat, logistical and support roles.

"The government is thinking it would be good if we can further expose our soldiers to assist in reconstruction and rebuilding of problem spots around the world - maybe with the US or a UN peacekeeping force."

Defence spokesman Tim Patoe says no papers have been put to Cabinet on the idea yet, nor have there been any formal discussions with the United States.