13 Apr 2005

PNG unable to say when Sir Michael will resume travel to Brisbane

3:42 pm on 13 April 2005

A spokesperson for the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, says she cannot say when he will be prepared to resume visits to Australia, through Brisbane.

PNG is indicating a desire to back down in its three-week-long row with Australia over a rigorous security check of Sir Michael in transit at Brisbane.

Australia has resisted repeated demands that it apologise.

Sir Michael will tomorrow depart for New Caledonia on a charter flight through Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, rather than going through Brisbane as earlier planned.

His spokesperson, Betha Somare, is non-committal about when he might use Brisbane again.

"I can't say, it just depends when he's got another visit, but I think for the moment he's opted to visit other Melanesian countries on the way down to New Caledonia, so I think that's what he's doing."

PNG says it received words of sympathy from the Solomon Islands' Governor-General over Sir Michael's treatment at Brisbane.