Saturday, May 26, 2018

APEC trade ministers fail to agree on multilateral trade system

mainichi.jp | May 26, 2018

PORT MORESBY (Kyodo) -- Trade ministers from 21 Pacific Rim economies concluded talks in the south Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea on Saturday, but failed to reach a consensus on the issue of a multilateral trading system.

Following the two-day gathering of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the ministers released a joint statement covering key discussion areas including promoting the digital economy and deepening regional economic integration.

However, the ministers struggled to agree on the issue of a multilateral trading system as embodied in the World Trade Organisation.

As a result, the APEC chairman, Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Rimbink Pato, released a separate statement reflecting his assessment of the prevailing views of APEC economies.

"We underscore that trade liberalization and facilitation are essential for achieving sustainable global growth and remain committed to continuing APEC's leadership to promote free and open markets," said the statement.

"We therefore reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open, and to fight against and to roll back protectionist and trade distorting measures, and we reaffirm our leaders' pledge to extend the standstill commitment until the end of 2020."

Both statements will be put to APEC leaders for their consideration ahead of their summit in November, also to be held in the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby.

APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

APEC trade ministers united to ensure economic growth, free trade, connectivity

by Levi J Parsons, xinhuanet.com

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea, May 26 (Xinhua) -- The 24th APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting concluded in Papua New Guinea's (PNG) capital city of Port Moresby on Saturday, with the nation's foreign mister and co-chair of the meeting Rimbink Pato labeling the talks a huge success.

"We have agreed to work collaboratively as we seek to drive sustainable economic growth and prosperity for the Asia Pacific region," Pato told reporters.

"Although there is a lot of ongoing work for APEC in the years ahead, we need to improve connectivity and deepen regional economic integration, as a united group we can address our challenges in cooperation so we ensure the success of economic growth, trade liberalization and freeing of markets."

With 21 member economies represented at the trade minister's two-day meeting, much of the talks focused on enhancing digital connectivity and using new technologies to drive economic growth.

"We have had a number of examples of small businesses over the last week presenting to senior officials and ministers on the question of what you can do in a remote area in terms of how you can connect up very small businesses to international markets," executive director of the APEC secretariat Alan Bollard told Xinhua.

One of those presentations came from a local PNG team who demonstrated how smartphone technology could be utilized to link makers of hand woven bilum products in remote villages with buyers from international markets.

According to PNG's delegate Wera Mori, this discussion on the digital future of the South Pacific was extremely fruitful.

"No doubt digital technology is very important," the commerce and industry minister told Xinhua.

"We must, not only be able to communicate but also connect with the rest of the world."

"It is a challenge but when there is a vision there is a way and we are working toward achieving that (with APEC)."

Member economies also agreed to work closely on improving food supply chains, bolstering free trade agreements, ensuring sustainable fishing across the Asia Pacific and creating more opportunities for female entrepreneurs.

APEC Leaders Meeting will take place in November in Port Moresby.

U.S-China spat casts shadow over Asia-Pacific free trade drive

by Jason Scott, bloomberg.com
May 25, 2018 

APEC unsettled by uncertainty over potential for trade war
Australia’s Coulton says ‘giants in the room’ having issues

The U.S and China’s on-again, off-again trade dispute is casting a shadow over Asia-Pacific nations’ efforts to further open up global trade, a senior Australian government official said.

Delegates at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Port Moresby this weekend pledged to keep pursuing a free and fair international trading regime, in the face of rising protectionist sentiment. The Papua New Guinea capital in November will also host an Apec summit that will include Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, amid ongoing risks the US and China could unleash tit-for-tat tariffs.

“The two giants in the room are having issues,” Australia’s Assistant Trade Minister Mark Coulton said on the conference sidelines Saturday. Delegates are “certainly watching closely and are concerned because they don’t want to be caught up in the by-wash.”

Trump is on a mission to deliver on his election pledge to crack down on unfair trade practices by foreign countries. He proposed tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese imports, prompting preparations in Beijing to retaliate. While the U.S. appeared to step back from imposing the penalties earlier this week, the president’s changeable policy positions mean this hasn’t completely allayed market concerns.

Asian economies, which include many APEC members, would suffer more than China if Trump made good on his threats, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Economics. It estimates that for every 10 percent drop in China’s exports, growth in Asian economies would be cut by an average of 1.1 percentage points, while China’s would fall just 0.3 percentage point.

Far from Washington and Beijing, Port Moresby played host to representatives of the 21 APEC members, including U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Jeffery Gerrish and China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen. Talks between the pair have been “cordial and generally constructive,” Coulton said.

“They’ve been quite measured in their contributions,” Coulton said. “They’ve both indicated their basic commitment to free trade. They haven’t been complete in their endorsement,” he said, adding that caveats like “fair” have been invoked quite regularly.

Some Confusion
Coulton said his discussions with fellow APEC delegates had revealed some confusion about how the mounting tensions between the world’s two biggest economies will play out.

“The elephant in the room is trying to pin down whether they’re going down a particular path on this,” he said. “If that was understood, maybe countries could work toward that, but maybe the irregular nature of what’s happening at the moment is what’s unsettling.”

Still, he said, that made other Apec members “even more determined” to ensure they “keep channels open and keep growing the opportunities for free trade and hopefully the storm that’s happening at the moment will settle down.”

Apec members reaffirmed a commitment to keep their markets open “and to fight against and to roll back protectionist and trade-distorting measures,” chair Rimbink Pato, who is also Papua New Guinea’s minister for foreign affairs and trade, said in a statement at the meeting’s conclusion.

They also pledged to recommit toward achieving a free-trade area in the Asia-Pacific and to bridge the “digital divide,” according to the final communique.

Australia funds Lae School of Nursing new academic building

Australian High Commission
Students of the Lae School of Nursing in Morobe Province will greatly benefit from the new infrastructure support provided by the Australian government.
 
Opening of the academic building at the Lae School of Nursing by Health Secretary Pascoe Kase, Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis and Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu
Secretary for Health Pasco Kase and Australian High Commissioner, Bruce Davis opened the new academic building at the Lae School of Nursing on Tuesday, May 8.

The major infrastructure upgrade support valued at approximately K25 million is part of the Angau Hospital redevelopment project, an initiative under the Joint Understanding between the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Delegates with students in front of the new academic building at the Lae School of Nursing

Developments include the renovation of the administration building and construction of a new academic building complex. 

The new building complex includes tutorial rooms, a computer lab, library and student mess.
Tour inside the training facility at the Lae School of Nursing

The new facilities, which have the capacity to cater for over 300 students, will deliver a conducive teaching and learning environment for both staff and students.

Security lighting has also been installed to enable students to access school facilities and Angau Hospital for clinical practicals in the evenings.

The project, which was completed late last year and provided job opportunities and skills development for an estimated 90 local  construction workers, who were involved in the construction of the facilities.

The Lae School of Nursing was established in the 1960s and has a longstanding relationship with Angau Hospital, which continues as the school’s teaching hospital.

Through Australia’s partnership with Papua New Guinea, this assistance to the Lae School of Nursing will help to ensure the ongoing provision of adequately trained staff for the expanded facilities at Angau  Hospital, as well as addressing potential shortages of skilled health workers throughout the country. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Report: Papua New Guinea has lowest population of tourists in the world

HOLIDAY destinations such as Spain, France, Greece and Thailand have proven popular in the past, particularly among Britons. But which country now suffers from the worse case of "overtourism"?

By HARRIET MALLINSON
Thu, May 24, 2018
Express

A new “tourism density” index has compared total visitor arrivals in 2016 to the permanent population.

Overtourism: Too many visitors can affect the locals' quality of life

Croatia wins the title of most tourists per head of population, according to Australian travel company Intrepid.

In 2016 the small Eastern European country welcomed 57,587,000 tourists, while their population is made up of just 4,170,000 people.

This means international visitors make up 1380.78 per cent of Croatia’s population.

That’s nearly 14 tourists to every local.

At the other end of the spectrum, suffering from dramatic undertourism, is Papua New Guinea.

There, tourists make up just 2.45 per cent of the population.

The southwestern Pacific country welcomes just 198,000 tourists yet has 8,084,990 locals.

Part of the word’s second largest island, Papua New Guinea is the world’s most diverse country linguistically with over 700 native tongues.

Roughly 80 per cent of the population live in rural areas with minimal or no facilities of modern life.

When visitors outweigh locals, it can become an issue for their cost of living and therefore quality of life

Croatia's popularity is hardly surprising.

Croatia features a beautiful Adriatic coastline and is a land of impressive natural beauty, not to mention a pilgrimage site for Game of Thrones fans.

Iceland, which is experiencing an overwhelming tourism boom at the moment, came second on the index.

The Nordic island has 334,250 locals but attracts a whopping 1,891,000 tourists.

So for every local in Iceland there are six tourists.

“When visitors outweigh locals, it can become an issue for their cost of living and therefore quality of life,” says Intrepid.

Overtourism: For every local in Iceland there are six tourists

“Whilst tourism plays a major part in Iceland’s economy, it is the ideal case study for overtourism.”

Third on the list is Greece, followed by Spain, Italy and Mexico in the top six.

These countries don’t all necessarily welcome such high level of popularity. Italy has recently taken action to help its people cope with the incessant tourist invasion.

In Venice, tourist-only routes to super-popular landmarks, St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge, have been created.

Locals had long complained that their day-to-lives were greatly impeded by the hordes of visitors.

Overtourism: Venice has taken measure to improve matter for locals fed up with tourists

Intrepid conducted the research as part of its first Adventure Travel Index, which looks at the travel habits of the tour company's travellers.

District update from Tari-Pori MP James Marape

By JAMES MARAPE
May 24, 2018

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill today directed ExxonMobil, Works and Implementation Minister Michael Nali and Secretary David Wereh, and contractor Curtain Brothers  to start on the Hela 1, 2 and 3 buildings in Tari as well as start sealing Wabia to Nipa and Halimbu to Komo roads.
This was in the presence of Hela Governor Philip Undialu, Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP and Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas, Southern Highlands Governor William Powi and myself.
ExxonMobil has committed to draw down K150 million tax credit of which the first  K70 million  will be made available this month for work to start.
We are also getting Chinese Exim Bank to fund the high-voltage power line into Hides from Mt Hagen.
Kumul Petroleum has been asked to finance the smaller 22 kva distribution lines in and around Hela and Southern Highlands.
Prime Minister O'Neill has also directed Oil Search to provide tax credit funding to complete Gulf-Southern Highlands- Hela Highway as well as getting Poroma-Kutubu Highway sealed.
My people , I know many problems face us. Worst of all is lack of development in our areas.
 I admit we have not done much in terms of large-scale impact projects.
However,  just because these have not started yet does not mean we,  your leaders,  aren’t fighting for you.
As your leaders, we dream the same dream you have.
Many times, our own differences of opinion, tribal fights or political fights cause  delay work we can achieve for our home province if we all work together.
My dream remains for a better Hela: Educated, healthy and industrious people.
I want sealed roads to run from Komo to Tari , Tari to Kopiago, Tari to Mendi, Tari to Kikori, Tari to the wharf in Kikori.
I want functioning sealed airports in both Tari and Komo, electricity from Hides with getting fibre optics from Hides to the whole of Hela.
These are but a few dreams but we can’t advance much with law-and-order problems.
I am coming home next week to consolidate on the present peace programme my district peace team has started.
I ask my people to try our best to resolve our differences in a peaceful manner.
Let us show the country we are people with the ability to forgive and care for each other.
Next week, when I come,  I hope to bring planners from PNG Defence Force who will look at possible sites for a 1000-soldier barracks in my district.
I am also dreaming of a military base in Tari for the long-term.
Many things are possible for our district and province.
We are in Government not to waste time.
If in difficult times our Government can change Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen, we can do likewise for Tari.
All I request is PEACE.
My people, be rest assured I am still at work for you.
By the time I am finished as your MP, I want to leave Tari a better district then what I took over from.
Thank you and God Bless.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Schools in remote areas of Kokoda Track receive new education buildings

Australian High Commission

Two elementary schools in the Mt Koiari area of the Kokoda Track have celebrated the opening of new education facilities delivered by the Australian Government through the Kokoda Initiative.

Students inside the new classroom at Manari Elementary School


Double classrooms were constructed at Manari Elementary School and Boridi Elementary School in Central Province. Manari also received a new staff house, which will be occupied by the school principal.

The official opening of the new buildings was held on 23 May and attended by students, teachers, local community members and representatives from the Central Provincial Administration, Australian High Commission and Seventh Day Adventist church.


Minister Counsellor Andrew Egan from the Australian High Commission said he hoped the new buildings would improve learning outcomes and opportunities for local children living in the remote area of Mt Koiari.

                                Opening at Boridi Elementary School


“Through the Kokoda Initiative, Australia is partnering with the Government of Papua New Guinea to deliver health and education infrastructure to support the delivery of basic services to remote communities along the Kokoda Track.”

The new classrooms will provide over 100 elementary students from Manari and Boridi, and the nearby villages of Milei, Daoi and Kagi, with better learning environments to encourage attendance at school.

The new classroom at Boridi is the first permanent school building in the village. Students will be able to use desks and chairs for the first time after previously sitting on the ground in classrooms made of bush materials.

Students, teachers, local community members and representatives from the Central Provincial Administration and Australian High Commission in front of the new classroom at Boridi Elementary School


“Every year the parents go to the bush to cut trees and collect bush materials to fix the classroom and it’s very hard work,” said Bosco Mailu, Boridi Elementary School chairman and village leader. “This new double classroom – with new chairs and tables – is something new in our school and village, and we are very excited. The parents are very happy, the whole village is happy.”

The new infrastructure in Manari complements an existing double classroom and replaces an old classroom made from bush materials. Locals celebrated the construction by chopping down a rough structure made from palm fronds to symbolise a bright future where strong permanent buildings will replace old ones.

                                Opening at Manari Elementary School


Since September 2017, a total of 16 new school buildings and 10 building upgrades have been completed along the Kokoda Track through the Kokoda Initiative program. Further works are due for completion by mid-year.

The Kokoda Initiative is a long-standing partnership between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The partnership is supporting remote villages along and around the Kokoda Track as part of its enduring commitment to provide communities with better access to quality health and education.

US family rejoices at finding of soldier’s World War II plane in PNG

by The Associated Press, wtop.com
May 23, 2018

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tom Kelly grew up on a Northern California farm and once thought of becoming a cowboy before World War II got in the way.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces instead, and on March 11, 1944, the 21-year-old 2nd lieutenant was aboard a B-24 bomber with 10 others when it was struck by Japanese anti-aircraft fire and plunged into the Pacific Ocean.

When the plane Kelly and his fellow crew members called Heaven Can Wait was found at the bottom of a bay off the coast of Papua New Guinea, a wave of exhilaration — albeit one mixed with grief — washed over his family, including many members too young to have ever met him.

“This discovery of where the wreck is, of seeing pictures and videos of the wreck on the floor of Hansa Bay. My goodness, it brings closure in a way we didn’t expect,” Scott Althaus of Chicago said.

On Memorial Day 2013 Althaus launched what would quickly become a family-wide project to learn everything relatives could about the young man who grew up thinking he’d be a cowboy but then, inspired by his military service, decided he wanted to be a pilot instead. He was the bombardier on Heaven Can Wait.

“He was a very gregarious man. He kept up correspondence with I think 38 different people stateside while he was overseas. He was just everybody’s friend, very well liked,” said Althaus, Kelly’s first cousin once removed. “It would have been something to see what he would have done after coming back from the war if that had been his outcome.”

A year ago Kelly’s family turned over what they learned to Project Recover, a team of marine scientists, historians, archaeologists, divers and others who seek out military crash sites connected to cases involving those listed as Missing in Action.

The organization announced the find Monday, and said its search was aided greatly by what the family provided, including eyewitness narratives, military reports, flight documents and even diary entries from crew members on planes flying in formation with Kelly’s when it was hit.

This also marked the first time that an MIA family had provided his group such support, said Eric Terrill, Project Recover’s co-founder and leader of the search.

“The results from our efforts in Hansa Bay have stirred a mix of lasting emotions within our team and drives home the need to recognize the sacrifices that service members and their families make in protecting our freedoms,” said Terrill, who works at San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The findings are being turned over to the Department of Defense’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which seeks to recover remains of MIAs.

Althaus said if his cousin’s body is retrieved the family hopes he might someday be buried in his hometown of Livermore, California.

For now, however, the family is simply rejoicing in having finally found him.

A professor of political science and communications at the University of Illinois, Althaus’ area of expertise is political opinion and news coverage of war. It was his research into the subject that led him to try to learn the life story of the cousin he never met. Like many family members he was born after Kelly died. Others, including his mother, were small children when they last saw him.

“One of the wonderful things that came out of this effort to just figure out what happened on March 11, 1944, was really bringing the family together across lines that we didn’t communicate through very often,” he said. “And to bring these stories to life.”

He’s hoping that this Memorial Day other families might do the same.

Discovery of crashed WWII plane in PNG brings closure to US family

by Mary Roberts, knopnews2.com
May 23, 2018

NORTH PLATTE, Neb.-- A North Platte woman can sleep peacefully now, finally having closure about what happened to a missing World War Two plane and the men on it.

Mary Pieper remembers her first cousin Joe McFadden like it was yesterday. Pieper says that McFadden was more like a big brother. He had a fun personality and a bright smile. Pieper always looked forward to spending time with him out in the country.

"He made a really big impression on me," Pieper said. "You always saw him with a smile."

She can also recall vividly the day that she found out his B-24 bomber went down during the war. The day was March 11, 1944 and she was just 14 years old.

"It was sad," Pieper said. "It's kind of hard to explain. It was kind of unbelievable, I guess."

McFadden's plane crashed off the coast of Papua New Guinea at Hansa Bay with 11 men on board.

Seventy-four years later, a search unveiled McFadden's plane.

The non-profit organization Project Recover took to the ocean waters in October 2017 in an attempt to find five fallen U.S. air crafts.

"I'm glad this happened before I get any older," Pieper said.

Pieper is the last living person who knew McFadden, but she shares his story with family so that he is never forgotten.

Papua New Guinea launches its first report on key populations

European AIDS Treatment Group
23 May 2018

Papua New Guinea has published the results of its first comprehensive survey on key populations in the country.



The report is the conclusion of a study that collected estimates of the sizes of key population and biobehavioural data, which will be used to inform prevention and treatment services and policies for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

“Only when we ensure that Papua New Guinea’s HIV programming reaches the right people in the right way and place, and at the right time, will the increasing HIV infection rates amongst key populations be slowed,” said David Bridger, the UNAIDS Country Director for Papua New Guinea, at the report’s launch.

The study, Kauntim mi Tu (count us), was carried out in the three largest urban areas of the country—Port Moresby, Lae and Mount Hagen.

It revealed that female sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men and transgender people often do not seek health care, get tested for HIV or other sexually transmitted infections or use condoms.

Members of key populations in the country face real and perceived stigma, discrimination and violence from police, clients and others in their communities on a daily basis, according to the report.

 High rates of stigma, discrimination and violence are deterring them from seeking or accessing health-care services.

A member of Friends Frangipani, an organization of sex workers, said, “Many of us live very difficult lives. We don’t all have access to clean water, healthy food or a safe space.

"We are struggling.

"Yet we are told to look after ourselves, protect ourselves from HIV and, if HIV-positive, stay healthy.

"That is very hard for many of us.

"People need to understand our lives better, and Kauntim mi Tu has done that.”

While adult female HIV prevalence is estimated at 1.1% nationally, the study found that prevalence was nearly 20% among female sex workers in Mount Hagen and almost 15% in the capital, Port Moresby.

More than half of gay men and other men who have sex with men and transgender people were found to have never been tested for HIV.

Three out of four men in the second largest city, Lae, reported having experienced violence related to their sexuality or sexual identity.

The study included biological testing, with participants offered point-of-care tests and, if needed, same-day treatment for syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

The research team included members of key populations.

The study’s principle investigator, Angela Kelly-Hanku, noted that much work remains to be done.

 “This work must be done in the context of safe, respectful and enabling environments that support adequate public health responses and invest in new and dynamic ways to increase HIV testing and ensure that treatment is continuously available, that viral load testing is standard HIV care and that prevention is paramount to everything.

"We cannot be complacent,” she said.

The report is available at http://www.aidsdatahub.org/sites/default/files/publication/PNG_Kauntim_mi_tu_Multi-Site_Summary_Report_from_the_Key_Population_IBBS_2018.pdf

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Missing World War II B-24 bomber discovered By Project Recover In Hansa Bay off Papua New Guinea

projectrecover.org | May 22, 2017

 A B-24 D-1 bomber associated with 11 American servicemen missing in action from World War II was recently found and documented in Hansa Bay off Papua New Guinea by Project Recover—a collaborative team of marine scientists, archaeologists and volunteers who have combined efforts to locate aircraft associated with MIAs from WWII.



The crew of “Heaven Can Wait” was part of the 320th squadron of the “Jolly Rogers” 90th Bombardment Group and was on a mission to bomb Japanese anti-aircraft batteries around Hansa Bay on March 11, 1944 when their B-24 was shot down by enemy fire causing it to crash into the ocean. The crew had arrived in Papua New Guinea just four months prior to join the Pacific theater of combat against the Japanese during WWII.

Present-day Papua New Guinea was the site of military action in the Pacific from January 1942 to the end of the war in August 1945, with significant losses of aircraft and servicemen.

Project Recover set its sights on finding “Heaven Can Wait” after being presented with four years of research on circumstances of the crash, compiled by family members of one the B-24 crew members seeking closure for their lost relative. These data included historical eyewitness narratives from official military reports, mission documents, and diary entries from crew members on other aircraft in formation with the B-24 during its flight.

In October 2017, a team from Project Recover set out to perform an archaeological survey of Hansa Bay believed to be the final resting place of 5 U.S. Aircraft with 24 MIA lost during fierce combat during WWII. Based on the historical data, “Heaven Can Wait” was believed to be offshore the north end of the Bay.

After 11 days on the water, and a search that covered nearly 27 square kilometers of the sea floor involving scanning sonars, high definition imagers, advanced diving, and unmanned aerial and underwater robotic technologies, Project Recover located the debris field of the B-24 bomber in 213 feet of water. The details of the crash site have been formally communicated to the U.S. government for their review to potentially set into motion a process for recovering and identifying the remains of up to 11 crew members missing for over 70 years.

“Unique to this mission was the contact by an extended family group associated with ‘Heaven Can Wait’ while our historians were independently researching the loss of their loved one prior to our departure to Papua New Guinea,” said Eric Terrill, co-founder of Project Recover, expedition leader at Hansa Bay, and an oceanographer from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. “The results from our efforts in Hansa Bay have stirred a mix of lasting emotions within our team and drives home the need to recognize the sacrifices that service members and their families make in protecting our freedoms.”

“This is an important step toward our ultimate goal of identifying and returning home the crew of ‘Heaven Can Wait’ who bravely served our country during the battle at Hansa Bay,” said Dan Friedkin, team member of Project Recover and chairman and CEO of The Friedkin Group. “Our search efforts for the more than 72,000 missing American service members from World War II will continue as we seek to bring closure to the families impacted by their loss.”

Project Recover’s cutting edge team of scientists, historians, archaeologists, engineers, and divers conduct research and surveys to discover new crash sites, fully document wreckage, and correlate wrecks to known MIA cases. That documentation can then be used by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to evaluate that site for the possible recovery of remains. DPAA is tasked with recovery and repatriation efforts, including notification of the families of these MIAs.

The mission to Papua New Guinea occurred during Project Recover’s second year of formal operations and was made possible by a substantial financial commitment from Friedkin in 2016. Friedkin’s continued support is helping sustain ongoing missions, while enabling the organization to innovate its technology and broaden its search and discovery efforts to focus areas around the world.

In the last five months there have been three repatriation ceremonies for American WWII service members who were recovered and identified as a result of Project Recover’s search and discovery efforts: Albert (“Bud”) Rybarczyk, Navy Reserve Aviation Radioman 2/c and Ora H. Sharninghouse Jr., Navy Reserve Aviation Ordnanceman 2/c of the U.S. Navy, USS Intrepid, Air Group 18 whose TBM Avenger went down in the Republic of Palau, and Navy Reserve Lt. William Q. Punnell whose F6F Hellcat was shot down in the Republic of Palau.

To this day, there are still more than 72,000 U.S. service members unaccounted for from World War II, leaving families with unanswered questions about their loved ones. Project Recover intends on launching more underwater missions later this year in various locations within the Pacific and European Theaters.


About Project RECOVER
Project Recover is a public-private partnership to enlist 21st century science and technology combined with in-depth archival and historical research in a quest to find the final underwater resting places of Americans missing in action since World War II.
Established in 2012 with initial support from the Office of Naval Research and formalized in 2016 with private funding, Project Recover is a partnership among researchers at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and The BentProp Project, Limited.

US bomber missing since World War II found in Papua New Guinea

By David A. Bryant | Herald staff writer 

Project Recover announced Tuesday the discovery of a B-24 bomber missing since World War II.



The bomber “Heaven Can Wait” was shot down during a mission to destroy Japanese anti-aircraft batteries around Hansa Bay, Papua New Guinea on March 11, 1944.

Eleven crew members were on board. Project Recover took on the mission to recover the plane after family members of one of the crew compiled four years of research on the crash, according to a Project Recover release.

The crew of “Heaven Can Wait” was part of the 320th squadron of the “Jolly Rogers” 90th Bombardment Group.

Project Recover is a collaborative team of marine scientists, archaeologists and volunteers who locate aircraft associated with missing in action troops from WWII.

In October 2017, a team from Project Recover began the archaeological survey of Hansa Bay, which is believed to be the final resting place of five U.S. aircraft and 24 MIA troops.


Project Recover used scanning sonars, high definition imagers, advanced diving and unmanned aerial and underwater robotic technologies to cover nearly 27 square kilometers of ocean over a period of 11 days to find “Heaven Can Wait.”

 The bomber was located 213 feet deep, the release said.

The crash site details have been given to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in order to begin the process of recovering and identifying the crew members.

“This is an important step toward our ultimate goal of identifying and returning home the crew of ‘Heaven Can Wait’ who bravely served our country during the battle at Hansa Bay,” said Dan Friedkin, team member of Project Recover and chairman and CEO of The Friedkin Group, said in the release.

 “Our search efforts for the more than 72,000 missing American service members from World War II will continue as we seek to bring closure to the families impacted by their loss.”

There are still more than 72,000 U.S. service members unaccounted for from World War II.

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

Papua New Guinea Vietnam War veteran recognised

Australian High Commission

Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis yesterday presented Papua New Guinean Vietnam War Veteran Richard Cherake with a total of four Australian Service medals.

Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis presenting Papua New Guinean Vietnam War Veteran Richard Cherake with a total of four Australian Service medals. 


In 1968, Cherake enlisted as a midshipman in the Royal Australian Navy Strategic Reserve – PNG.

He undertook officer training at HMAS Cerberus, navigation training at HMAS Watson and sea training on HMAS ANZAC.

The four Australian Service medals.


In 1971, Cherake served on HMAS Sydney, the Royal Australian Navy’s fast troop transport, providing logistical support to the 1st Australian Task Force in Vietnam.

In recognition of Cherake’s service, a small award ceremony was held yesterday at the Australian High Commission, witnessed by Head of Australian Defence Staff PNG, Col David Buller, family and members of the Australian Defence Force.
Papua New Guinean Vietnam War Veteran Richard Cherake and family members.

Qantas drops plans to expand Air Niugini codeshare

ch-aviation.com | May 18, 2018

Australia’s International Air Services Commission (IASC) has confirmed Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) has withdrawn its application for increased capacity allocation on the Papua New Guinea route via an expanded codesharing with Air Niugini (PX, Port Moresby).




The regulator said in a statement the application was withdrawn on May 15.

Qantas had intended to continue to codeshare on Air Niugini flights to Port Moresby from Brisbane Int'l and Sydney Kingsford Smith from July 1, 2018, and to start code sharing on Air Niugini's flights to the New Guinean capital from Cairns and Townsville.

 Virgin Australia, the only other Australian operator in the Australia-PNG market, lodged an objection on the grounds that the codeshare would jeopardise the sustainability of its services to PNG.

As such, in its draft determination issued earlier this month, the IASC tentatively ruled against granting the application on the grounds that it was not in the public interest.

“The Commission’s finding is that Qantas’s proposed free-sale codeshare arrangement with Air Niugini would reduce competition by increasing barriers to entry on the city pairs served only by Air Niugini (Cairns-Port Moresby, Sydney-Port Moresby, Townsville-Port Moresby) and by risking the withdrawal of Virgin Australia from the Brisbane-Port Moresby sector, where both Qantas and Air Niugini offer parallel services.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Police farewell late Jim Namora

POLICE MEDIA

The senior hierarchy of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) including Commissioner Gari Baki and Minister Jelta Wong paid their last respects in a moving funeral ceremony for the late Director of the Special Services Division Chief Superintendent Jim Namora.
The body of Jim Namora at the funeral service last Friday.

The constabulary has lost a talented officer in Namora, Baki said during the funeral service at Sioni Kami Memorial Church at 5-Mile in Port Moresby last Friday.
“I  have lost a good man and a talented police officer who commanded a lot of respect," he said.
"I have lost an officer who had the potential to go even further.
"We mourn his loss with his family.
“Late Namora had a very colourful history.
"When he was posted in the Western Highlands Province  in 1982, I was squad commander in Wabag, in the Enga Province.
"That was my last posting before I was posted to Lae, Morobe Province,  as a Mobile Squad commander.
“The Special Services Division would always be in my heart because that was where we grew up.
"That was the division that brought me as commissioner and to be a man.
"Jim is also one of the officers who has been groomed by the SSD."
Baki said he decided to take Namora out of West New Britain as the provincial police commander to be Director Special Services, because he was the best officer for the position at that time.
He said Namora accepted his appointments without any complaints at all.
Baki said Namora had left behind a legacy that was hard to fill "and we would be struggling to try as much as possible from where he has left for the RPNGC".
Wong said he wantedf all new recruits to have similar attitudes and character to policing as Namora.
He thanked family members of Namora for allowing him to serve the country.
Assistant commissioner Sylvester Kalaut, head of the police human resources division, joined the police force in 1996.
He said in his squad,  Namora was a serving member who came in from Mt Hagen where he has served as a sergeant in charge of a Mt Hagen-based mobile squad.
Kalaut said Namora was a mentor to other squad members and provided encouragement when needed.
“We will miss him for his encouragement and corporation,” Kalaut said.
Namora’s daughter Whinonh Namora paid an emotional tribute to her father whom she said loved his job as a policeman.
She said to her father, policing was a calling from God and not just a job.
Whinonh said while her father dedicated his life to the police force, he never gave up caring for his family no matter where he lived or where his duties took him.
  “He was always helpful and always tried to satisfy people with whatever little he has," she said.
"He was our guide, protector and provider and will be surely missed."
Namora’s body was take over the weekend to be laid to rest at his village in the Transgogol area of Madang Province.

Drunk soldiers attack innocent doctor in Port Moresby

Drunk PNG Defence Force soldiers attacked an innocent doctor in Port Moresby last Saturday.
This is the latest episode of an army which makes war against its own people, and in a year in which the country is hosting APEC
Port Moresby General Hospital Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Training Registrar Dr Dean Wahembari, was attacked by a group of soldiers, one of which he has identified as Desmond Dusava.
National Doctors' Association president Dr James Naipao has written to NCD Police Metropolitan Superintendent Perou N'Dranou complaining about the brutality.
The letter has also been sent to PNGDF Commander Gilbert  Toropo, Police Commissioner Gari Baki, Health Secretary Pascoe Kase, Port Moresby General Hospital CEO Dr Umesh Gupta, and doctors throughout the country.
Naipao, who is also Chief ENT Surgeon of Department of Health, wants the soldiers responsible to be arrested and charged.
Naipao said last Saturday Wahembari, after attending to inpatients at Port Moresby General Hospital,  drove to North Waigani after picking his wife to pick up their son at a friend’s house.
"By 6.30pm, Dr Wahembari drove and parked his car next to his colleague’s house gate," Naipao said.
"He could hear noise and people talking from the neighboring house.
"After five minutes, a group of people numbering six or so that were in that neighboring house, walked up to the doctor’s front gate where Dr Wahembari was standing to pick up his son.
"All started throwing punches at him.
"At Dr Wahembari’s surprise, he knew one of the person that attacked him.
"His name is Desmond Dusava, who is a private soldier in the Defence Force.
" Dr Wahembari asked Desmond why he was punching him, however, this group who were intoxicated from alcohol kept throwing punches and dragged him to the main road, punched him down and started kicking him with solid boots.
"The last he could remember is a bottle being smashed into his head.
"He become unconscious only to awoken with continuous slapping with sandals and boots to his face.
"Dr Wahembari’s wife tried her best telling this group to stop but the kicking and the punching continued.
"Whilst continuing the attack, Dr Wahembari overheard Desmond mentioning something about his late father - Otto Dusava -  who was managed by ENT Team at Port Moresby General Hospital.
"Dr Wahembari got to his feet bleeding from his face and with the help of his colleague’s father, he was taken inside his colleague’s residence.
" For a while, he was imprisoned there unable to go to the hospital and seek police help because of continuous threats and use of obscene languages by Desmond and his mob.
"At around 8.30pm, a police dog unit arrived at the scene but the policemen in that vehicle knew the mob so did nothing. "Dr Wahembari later called a policeman who arrived in an unmarked operational police vehicle and helped him to his vehicle.
"He took Desmond to Waigani Police Station around 9.30pm.
"While at the police station, Desmond kept threatening Dr Wahembari and his wife.
"He (Desmond) thinks that his late father was mismanaged by the ENT Team at Port Moresby General Hospital.
"Dr Wahembari from Waigani Police Station was rushed to Port Moresby General Hospital that night, and he is currently admitted at the hospital with trauma to his right eye with loss of vision, has fracture of the nose, and has global headache.
"The names of the mob are known by Dr  Wahembari, and these names have been given to police.
"The five are soldiers who were in civilian clothes when they attacked Dr Wahembari. "The sixth person is at large.
"Desmond was, however, released that night.
"Why did police did that?
"NCD Metropolitan Superintendent-Perou N’Dranou, the attack on the doctor seems premeditated and it was about to happen anytime, and it did.
"The complainant Dr Wahembari has laid the complaint with police, witnesses have written their statements and the suspects names have been identified except for one. "These suspects needed to be rounded up, charged and brought before the courts. "They do not deserve to serve the PNG Defence Force.
"If Desmond was not satisfied with how his late father’s case was managed by the ENT Team at Port Moresby General Hospital, then there are proper ways to handle this case than how he and his mob went about attacking the doctor.
"Dr Wahembari is my Training Registrar and the final decision on how his late father Otto Dusava’s case was managed rests on the lead team head which was me.
"His father presented with stage 4 cancer of the tongue, which was extensive and inoperable.
"Even chemoradiation treatment wouldn’t have cured it.
"He was palliatively managed.
"He went to Philippines for palliative chemoradiation.
"He returned and got admitted to the intermediate ward at Port Moresby General Hospital and was still managed palliatively until he passed on.
"Should Desmond blame the ENT Team for his father’s late presentation?
"That is not ENT’s fault.
"Period.
"Desmond’s rage and attack on the innocent doctor is uncalled for.
" Police must apprehend this mob and let them tell the court why they did what they did.
"The ENT Staff at Port Moresby General Hospital is also wary that this uncanny thug Desmond may be on the lookout for them too.
"Dr Dean Wahembari is a member of the National Doctors Association."
The demand of the National Doctors Association is:
  • Desmond Dusava and the five be arrested and brought to court. This must be done within 10 days starting May 22;
  •  PNG Defence Force to assist apprehend the five soldiers and hand over them to police.

Failure to arrest Desmond and the five would result in the following:

  • Stopwork by Port Moresby General Hospital ENT staff; 
  • Stopwork by Port Moresby General Hospital staff; and
  • Stopwork by National Doctors' Association membership nationwide
Naipao said their demands would stand "until this mob is dealt with by the force of the law".


Monday, May 21, 2018

US report warns about China's 'debt book diplomacy'

aninews.in | May 20, 2018

Washington D.C. [United States of America], May 20 (ANI): The U.S. State Department, has in a secret report commissioned by it recently, warned that China is offering a hundred billion dollars worth of loans to Australia's smaller regional neighbours in a bid to gain economic leverage and strategic and military prowess in the Asia Pacific region.

According to an article published by the Australian Financial Review (AFR), at least 16 states, including Vanuatu, The Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Tonga and Micronesia and Papua New Guinea are falling for China's so-called "debt book diplomacy".
For example, the AFR article cites the case of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Historically, it has been in Australia's orbit, and now, news is in circulation that it has accepted Chinese loans that it possibly cannot afford to repay.
What concerns both Washington and Canberra is the fact that PNG is strategically located in the Asia-Pacific region and has significant liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other resource reserves which Beijing could have access to in the long term.
The AFR quotes co-author and Harvard researcher Sam Parker, as saying, "China is giving hundreds of billions to countries that cannot afford to repay it, and it's going to want something in return for that money."
He adds, "China's public-private economic model makes it possible to transform economic debt into strategic influence and wealth."
According to the State Department commissioned secret report, China is spreading its wings in the Asia-Pacific region and is well on its way to ousting the United States as a power to be reckoned with in the region.
Taking advantage of President Donald Trump's lack of economic commitment to the region, Beijing has been providing infrastructure financing to countries through the one trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), using institutions like the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank.
The State Department commissioned report warns that this "debt book diplomacy is likely to play a key role in China's multi-faceted campaign to erode strategic benefits" from America and its allies and shift the balance of power in Asia.
Vanuatu is already "deep in debt" to China and now the latter "is positioning itself to capitalise on the impending fiscal plight of the Pacific Island states," the document states.
Last month, Fairfax Media reported that China held tentative talks with Vanuatu over the construction of a military base for naval vessels in the South Pacific Ocean less than 2,000 kilometers from Australia.
China and Vanuatu both denied that any plans were in progress, but Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his National Security and Defense Spokesman Richard Marles have taken this claim seriously.
Turnbull has warned Beijing that Australia will strongly object to a Chinese military base coming up in the South Pacific over fears that it could endanger regional peace.
Last month, he is reported to have sought reassurance from Vanuatu's Prime Minister Charlot Salwai that a China-funded port would never be used as a military base in his country.
American and Australian security experts fear that China's economic influence on Pacific nations could allow the Chinese military access to strategic defense infrastructure such as ports and airstrips near international waterways patrolled presently by the US Navy.
Andrew Shearer, a former National Security Advisor to Australian Prime Ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, believes that the threat from China is real and risky, and must not be ignored.
He cites the example of the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka and how Beijing has been able to secure a 99-year-long lease to manage the port's operations because of Colombo's inability to pay off a USD 8 billion loan that it took from China-controlled companies.
"The establishment of a military base in one of the key islands near our northern approaches would be a major problem for Australia," said Shearer, now a Senior Advisor for Asia-Pacific Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
"Australia remains an influential country in the region and an important source of support, but should step up its engagement and co-ordinate its efforts with other partners such as New Zealand, Japan and the United States."
China has poured money into Pakistan's Gwadar Port. It has invested in 760 projects in Laos. There are many examples of China using its overpowering economic muscle in countries like South Korea and The Philiippines in the year gone by.
Beijing, according to the AFR article, is posing a challenge to traditional Western financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
It quotes David Lampton, Director of China Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, as saying that "China is financing a mix of "good and bad" belt and road infrastructure projects."
At the same time, he also says, "In fact, many Chinese are worried that China is throwing money into hopeless projects."
China's debt has ballooned from 141 percent in 2008 to more than 250 percent of GDP.
"I believe China is taking a 30-year perspective. The Chinese are likely to write off much, but at a strategic level, they believe that once this infrastructure is created, it will be theirs to reorienting production chains as labor costs rise and the flow of assets towards China," Lampton adds.
The State Department report recommends that Australia, India, Japan, and the United States engage in a joint dialogue I which New Delhi's role as a regional leader is strengthened to ensure rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.
It also suggests that Washington extend support to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a bargaining chip to make China a more responsible lender.

(ANI with inputs)

PM O'Neill: Economic growth comes from inclusive spproach

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has highlighted the importance of ensuring countries draw on their own internal strengths and capabilities and build partnerships in order to enhance economic development.
O’Neill was speaking at the Eight Pacific Islands Leaders’ Meeting (PALM 8) on Saturday in Iwaki City, in Japan, where he said co-operation is essential but countries must take charge of their own responsibilities.
“While overseas assistance plays an important role in achieving our development goals, we must rely more on ourselves,” he said at the PALM8 Meeting.
“Driving our own economic growth is fundamental to the development in our country.
“And as we have learned in Papua New Guinea, economic growth must be inclusive.
“This is an essential part of APEC in 2018 that has the theme of Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future.
“Delivering true economic growth is all about building partnerships across the country.
“Government cannot advance an economy alone and we must work with the private sector, NGOs and churches to achieve better health outcomes for our people.
“This is particularly important in delivering the foundations for any healthy economy, particularly such as sectors including education and healthcare.
“We must look at better ways to enhance cooperation in the fields of healthcare, including the way we deal with infectious diseases.
“This includes the fight against tuberculosis through the provision of medical equipment and better communication.
“PALM, since its inception in 1997, has contributed to critical key development areas in infrastructure, education, health and transportation."
O'Neill further welcomed the proposed PALM Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy that aims to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This is based on values we all share and the three pillars of the strategy are consistent with our policy agenda.
“These include the Pursuit of economic prosperity and Commitment to peace and stability," he said.

Papua New Guinea states position on North Korea and UN reform

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has highlighted Papua New Guinea’s position on significant regional and global foreign policy issues at the meeting of Pacific Leaders in Japan.
Speaking at the Eight Pacific Islands Leaders‘ Meeting (PALM 8), he highlighted the Government’s position in relation to tensions on the Korean Peninsula and reform of the United Nations Security Council.
“There is no doubt the we live in complicated times in the global political context,” O'Neill said.
“There have been changes in the leadership of a number of governments, the Brexit vote and conflict in Syria with all of its human rights ramifications, just to name a few.
“It is times like these that Nation States must work together through global forums.
“We must work through the United Nations, but we know the UN system has its flaws and is need of reform.
“In particular, Papua New Guinea calls for reforms in the United Nations Security Council so that it is more relevant and responsive to security challenges that are faced in the world today.”
Leaders at PALM8 further discussed tensions with North Korea and the implications this has at a regional level.
“A crucial issue the world is dealing with today is finding a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula," O'Neill said
“If conflict was to return there would be serious implications for all nations of the Asia-Pacific.
“For many decades, the leadership of North Korea have acted in a deeply disturbing manner and violated acceptable rules of behaviour and decency. 
“Papua New Guinea further shares the concerns of the International Community over nuclear tests by North Korea.
“Our PALM host, Japan, is further facing an ongoing threat of conflict and the risks posed by missile tests.
“We also know of Japanese citizens being abducted, which is a violation of human rights and we support Japan in dealing with this matter.
“Papua New Guinea welcomes current negotiations taking place as a means to successfully address the Korean Peninsula issue.
“We must always work together and find political solutions in order to prevent war.”

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Japan, Pacific island nations urge North Korea to denuclearise

mainichi.jp | May 19, 2018 


IWAKI, Japan (Kyodo) -- Japan and Pacific island countries on Saturday called on North Korea to take concrete actions toward denuclearisation by complying with United Nations' sanctions over its nuclear and missile development, as they wrapped up a two-day summit meeting in northeastern Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Mainichi)


In the joint declaration released after the gathering in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and leaders from 14 Pacific island countries expressed deep concerns over the North evading international sanctions by transferring cargoes at sea.

It is the first time for Japan and the Pacific island countries to mention the North Korean issue in their declaration. Japan has hosted a regional summit with the Pacific island nations every three years since 1997.

The participants at the eight Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting also noted the importance of the complete, verifiable and irreversible scrapping of all of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, while stressing the need of an immediate resolution of the abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

The declaration also touched on the importance of the maritime order based on the rule of law and welcomed the "free and open Indo-Pacific strategy," a policy the Abe administration has pushed ahead with in an apparent effort to counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China.

In a keynote speech at the outset of the summit, Abe pledged to support Pacific island countries in enhancing their maritime security capabilities, given their vulnerable coastal security.

"Japan will be unstinting in its assistance toward improving countries' capacity to 'protect the sea,' including each country's legal enforcement capabilities," Abe said.

"It is the rule of law that gives protection to the nations, big and small, for their inherent rights," he said.

"Safeguarding the sea and safeguarding the planet and humankind are one and the same. My country will continue to make efforts with you all," Abe added.

The summit also focused on building infrastructure, including ports.

To support their sustainable development, Abe promised continued assistance to the island nations to protect the environment and cope with climate change.

Abe also vowed Japan's engagement in human resource development and people-to-people exchanges involving 4,000 people over the next three years.

The forum brings together Japan, the 14 Pacific island nations, Australia and New Zealand, as well as French Polynesia and New Caledonia, both of which are French territories.

The 14 Pacific island countries are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The previous meeting also took place in Iwaki, an area in northeastern Japan devastated by the massive 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi co-chaired the meeting with Abe.

Japanese WWII veteran working to bring fallen soldiers back to their homeland

18 May 2018

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has paid tribute to Japanese World War II veteran, Masai Horie, who works to recover the remains of Japanese soldiers and bring them back to Japan.
Prime Minister O’Neill, Horie and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Horie, who was prisoner-of-war in Rabaul in 1945, is 103 years old, has traveled to Papua New Guinea 18 times and is a former member of parliament in Japan.
“It was an honour to meet Mr Horie tonight,” O’Neill said.
“His tireless efforts to bring his countrymen home is outstanding and has earned him the highest respect in both of our countries.
"Papua New Guinea is the final resting place of so many courageous men and women from both sides of the war.
“Our nation will always accord the highest respect to those still buried in our soil.
“We will continue to work closely with Japan in their efforts to repatriate the remains of the fallen, and return them to their homeland."

PM O’Neill arrives in Japan for PALM8

18 May 2018

Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, has arrived in Japan for the 8th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (SOM8).
Prime Minister O’Neill with Prime Minister Abe and Ms Akie Abe

Held every three years in Japan, the PALM brings Pacific Island Nations together in discussion with Japan to develop initiatives for regional growth and co-operation.
Being held in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, from May 18-19, the Leaders’ Meeting has the theme “We are Islanders – Partnership towards Prosperous, Free and Open Pacific".
O’Neill welcomed the talks that he said will provide an opportunity for the region to engage with Japan on issues of mutual interest.
“Japan is very much involved in projects that strengthen economic advancement and enhance community development around the Pacific,” he said.
“Papua New Guinea is working with Japan on a number of initiatives that are strengthening infrastructure in our country, particularly as we prepare to host the APEC Summit in November.
"This includes the Port Moresby Sewage System Upgrade Project, the Reconstruction of bridges in East New Britain and capacity building support through the Volunteers Program.
“I look forward to the meetings over the coming days and discussion with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as we work together in the interests of improving regional infrastructure."
The PALM Leaders‘ Summit will be co-chaired by the Prime Minister of Japan, and the Prime Minister of Samoa,  as the current Chair of the Pacific Island Forum.

Phillipines President Duterte welcomes stronger ties with PNG

Address by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte at the State Dinner in Manila, 16 May 2018:

Today in our meetings, I have seen the true spirit of friendship and cooperation, having agreed to work together on matters of mutual interest, particularly in increasing an environment of trade and investment, and further strengthening the very important agricultural and fisheries sectors.

Tonight we have strengthened the foundations of mutual respect, not only at the official level, but more at a personal level.
The 35,000 Filipinos living and working in PNG and the hundreds of PNG citizens studying in the Philippines are living truth of friendship that we aim to strengthen in the the years to come.
The Philippines have further deepened our engagements in PNG as we support PM O'Neill's Chairmanship of this year's APEC Leaders Summit.
I am truly honoured for this evening's occassion, as this is your first official visit to the Philippines.
Today will reaffirm this relationship as we celebrate this opportunity to build on from strength to strength.
Today marks a new chapter where we chart a new destiny as sovereign states.

PM O'Neill thanks Philippines for ongoing relationship

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has thanked the President of the Philippines for the ongoing strengthening of relations between the two countries, that is delivering benefits in education, agriculture and healthcare.
He has completed an Official State Visit to the Philippines where he met with Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte, senior government officials and business leaders.

O’Neill said the major outcome to come from the visit is the reassertion of how close the Philippines is to Papua New Guinea, both in geography and in cultural characteristics.
“Our two countries have many similarities, in our governance and legal processes, in our approach to business and in our Christian values," he said.

“The Philippines is a very community orientated country with respect for family and tradition.
“The islands of the Philippines also share very strong similarities with all island nations around the Pacific.
“Now as we increase our co-operation in areas such as agriculture and education, the bonds between our people will continue to grow.

“Papua New Guinea has a very close friend in the Philippines.
“We have had diplomatic relations for 43 years, but we have been friends for hundreds of years since Filipinos came with the missionaries.”


O'Neill has also passed on the concern expressed by President Duterte following the Highlands Earthquake.
“President Duterte extended his condolences the people of the Highlands Region and expressed sorrow for the loss of life in recent tragic earthquake," he said.

Commercial rice production to begin in co-operation with the Philippines

Price of rice to drop when PNG produces rice locally

Ensuring food security for Papua New Guinea into the future has been given a boost through an arrangement that will see hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice planted, and deliver a reduction in the price of rice in the country.
Speaking at the end of an official State Visit to the Republic of the Philippines last week, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, said that a memorandum of understanding on agricultural co-operation has been signed that will lead to extensive rice cultivation.
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill speaking at the end of an official State Visit to the Republic of the Philippines

O’Neill said understanding has been reached with Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte, and his government, to co-operate in the production of rice for the benefit of both countries.
“Food security is essential for the future survival of all countries in the world, because if we cannot find enough food for a fast increasing population everyone will suffer,” he said.
“Papua New Guinea and the Philippines have agreed to work together to enhance the food security for both countries.
“The Philippines will provide technical advice, private sector investment and people to guide our farmers to establish many thousands of hectares of rice production in Papua New Guinea.
“Rice grown at these farms will be sold in the domestic market in Papua New Guinea, and in the long term, rice not required for domestic consumption will be sold to the Philippines at market rates.
“This is an innovative approach to confront the looming problem of food security by drawing on the strengths of each country.
“Papua New Guinea has hundreds of thousands of hectares of fertile land that is suitable for rice production, and the Philippines has the technical knowledge and the investment capital.
“Our soil for rice cultivation has never been commercially farmed, and is rich in nutrient delivering almost twice the yield per hectare of most rice-producing areas in South-East Asia.
“This will be a public private partnership, with the Philippines Government providing technical expertise and facilitating private sector investment.
“The Papua New Guinea Government will provide regulatory support, strengthen relevant infrastructure in farming areas and encourage domestic investment.
“Rice production trials are already underway and the first commercial planting is expected to begin next year.”
O'Neill said the wide-scale production of rice in Papua New Guinea will also see the price of rice fall, as was the case when Papua New Guinea began producing its own fresh milk.
“When our own Papua New Guinea milk hit supermarket shelves this year, it sold at half the price of foreign milk, so the foreigners then also halved their price.
“They had been selling foreign milk at such a high mark-up, and that stopped when locally made milk entered the market.
“Papua New Guinea is standing up for itself against price gouging and market exploitation.
“We will continue to deliver the best results for our communities, we will enhance food security and get fair prices for our people.”
The memorandum of understanding, signed by the agriculture ministers of both countries, forms the basis from which both Governments and relevant stakeholders can advance project arrangements and then sign a memorandum of agreement.
Ministers of agriculture from PNG and Philippines sign the agreement.

O'Neill said the memorandum of agreement will be finalised between before the APEC Leaders’ Summit in Port Moresby in November this year.