Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PM O’Neill bilateral meeting summary from Japan

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill  held a series of bilateral meetings with regional Leaders as part of the 7th Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 7) in Iwaki City, Fukushima, Japan.
Major multilateral conferences provide opportunities to speak informally with Leaders from our partner countries, while also taking enabling formal bilateral meetings with as many Leaders as time permits.
The Prime Minister held formal bilateral meetings in Iwaki City with the Leaders of the delegations from Samoa, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Australia, that provided an opportunity to discuss matters of joint significance.


O'Neill met with the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, and advised his long-serving counterpart of Papua New Guinea's desire to present him with the nation's highest award.
"I informed Prime Minister Malielegaoi that the Government of Papua New Guinea would like to bestow upon him a Logohu Award," Prime Minister O'Neill said.
"As the senior statesman of the Pacific island countries, Prime Minister Malielegaoi has been instrumental in advancing regional development and cooperation, and facilitating warm relations between countries.
"We look forward to the Logohu Award being presented to Prime Minister Malielegaoi when he visits Port Moresby in September for the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting."
The Prime Ministers further discussed Papua New Guinea investments in Samoa and plans for the Bank of South Pacific to expand its operations to Samoa.


In the meeting between O'Neill and the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Joseph Natuman, the leaders discussed disaster relief following Cyclone Pam in April this year.
"It was important to have Prime Minister Natuman's personal perspective of ongoing efforts to recover from the damage caused by Cyclone Pam,"  O'Neill said.
"The disaster support provided by Papua New Guinea has been well received and is being used to help people in Vanuatu to rebuild their lives."
The Prime Ministers further discussed the possibility of expanding air links through an air services agreement that would further facilitate trade and investment between the two countries.
Prime Minister Natuman also advised that Vanuatu university students would be coming to study in Papua New Guinea from the first semester for 2016 as part of the Memorandum of Understanding that was recently signed between the two countries.

Solomon Islands

O'Neill reaffirmed Papua New Guinea's commitment to the Solomon Islands in his meeting with Deputy Prime Minister, Douglas Ete, highlighting the ongoing development support arrangement that is in place.
"The Solomon Islands is a very important friend of Papua New Guinea and we are providing development support to improve lives," the Prime Minister said.
"We have in place a 100 million Kina development corporation assistance program that we are delivering over five years.
"This was formalised in 2012 and we will present the next tranche of this support when we attend the MSG meeting in Honiara in June."
The leaders also discussed the Melanesian submarine telecommunications cable and the advantages this will bring to the broader region.


The final formal bilateral meeting for the Prime Minister was with the Australia's Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, which covered a number of issues of concern including the proposal for a consular office in Buka, the Manus Regional Processing Centre and visa issues. 
Also attended by the Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister, Rimbink Pato, the meeting provided an opportunity to reach common ground on some outstanding issues.
"We accept that there was a misunderstanding and communications processes were not followed in relation to the foreign consulate proposal. 
"I will leave it to Australia to make a formal announcement on their views and we look forward to moving on.
"With the Manus centre we are seeing the number of asylum seekers reduce as many return to their home countries. 
"Those who are approved and deemed to be legitimate refugees, and want to make a contribution and apply their skills in our community, will have the opportunity to stay."
The Prime Minister has called for progress to be made in coming to a shared position on facilitating easier visa access for Papua New Guineans seeking to visit Australia.
"This visa issues as been complicated for several reasons, but we now need to move to a resolution whereby travel for Papua New Guineans and Australians between our countries is simplified."
This issues is anticipated to be raised at an upcoming ministerial level meeting between Papua Guinea and Australia in Port Moresby in June.
The Prime Minister earlier held bilateral meetings with the President of Palau, Thomas Remengesu Jr, and Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, earlier in Tokyo.

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