31 Mar 2004

PNG minister believes Australian deployment to be cleared next month

11:23 am on 31 March 2004

Papua New Guinea's police minister says he is confident that a dispute over the granting of immunity to 300 Australian police and officials due to deploy to PNG will be resolved soon.

Bire Kimisopa says his government rejects blanket immunities but says agreement should be finalised next month.

He told the news agency AAP that Australia is dealing with a nation which is worried about its independence and sovereignty.

The minister says PNG has a major law and order problem because of the state of the economy but the government is not run by the mafia and the society is not torn up by gun-toting criminals.

Mr Kimisopa says a robust democracy and judiciary means that PNG cannot be categorised in the same way as the Solomons or Fiji.