14 Mar 2008

PNG troops seek joining UN forces

4:29 pm on 14 March 2008

Papua New Guinean troops could be deployed as United Nations peacekeepers by early next year.

The commander of the PNG Defence Forces, Commodore Peter Ilau, says they have been working on a proposal for the past three years that would see the country's troops made available for overseas deployment.

Commodore Ilau says if the Parliament passes the Forces Abroad Bill later this year defence personnel could be in the field as UN observers by early next year.

"We hope to start quickly with observers. We commence with two or three observers at any one time and hopefully in the near future we can increase fairly quickly to a platoon strength or even a company strength - that's ranging from 30 plus men to 100 plus men."

Commodore Ilau says the PNG soldiers would benefit from working alongside their international counterparts whether as UN peacekeepers or part of regional deployments such as those in Solomon Islands and East Timor.