15 Oct 2005

PNG says 40 Australian police could return in coming weeks

5:15 am on 15 October 2005

The Papua New Guinea internal security minister, Bire Kimisopa, says about forty Australian police could be deployed to PNG in the coming weeks, as part of a revised aid programme funded by Australia.

Mr Kimisopa was speaking after talks with the Australian federal justice minister, Chris Ellison.

The aim was to salvage some elements of the police component of the so-called Enhanced Co-Operation Programme.

1-hundred and 61 Australian police officers flew home in May after Papua New Guinea said they were not immune from local prosecution.

Australia and PNG have already reached a tentative agreement allowing a smaller number of police to return to take up advisory roles.

Australian civil servants are still working in a range of PNG government departments under the other component of the original aid programme.