14 Dec 2004

Australia's Foreign Minister visits PNG for talks with local counterparts

7:38 am on 14 December 2004

Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, leads a team of federal ministers into the Papua New Guinea city of Lae today for the annual ministerial forum with their PNG counterparts.

A major focus at the forum in PNG's second largest city will be the Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP) under which more than 200 Australian police are being deployed to assist PNG police in tackling law and order problems.

Australia's Associated Press news agency reports that under the ECP, Australian officials are also assisting the PNG government in strengthening economic management, the justice system, and border, customs and transport security.

Other major points for discussion at the forum include bilateral defence cooperation, Australian aid to PNG, measures to promote growth and security and PNG's response to a growing HIV/AIDS problem in the country.