14 Feb 2007

PNG's Foreign Minister says ambassador should stop passing the buck over visas

4:13 pm on 14 February 2007

Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister, Paul Tiensten, says PNG's Ambassador to China, Max Rai, should stop trying to pass the buck on the influx of illegal Chinese into the country.

He says Mr Rai, who has been recalled from Beijing and is facing charges over issuing visas inappropriately, needs to return to Port Moresby as soon as possible.

The minister says Mr Rai has informed him that he will only return home once the Chinese government accepts the nomination of the new ambassador.

Mr Rai has also denied the allegations and told the media that the problem is with immigration when the Chinese arrive.

Mr Tiensten agrees there is a problem at the ports of entry but he says the bigger issue is what is happening at the embassy in Beijing.

"I'm actually working on this concerted effort in trying to really step up in terms of monitoring & compliance, beefing up our immigration offices so that we've got the capacity to handle this job but my real concern is the point of origin, where these people come from because they should be properly screened there."

Mr Tiensten says he is hoping Mr Rai will return within the next two weeks so that the new ambassador, John Momis, can be sent to Beijing.