Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says Papua New Guinea is looking to strengthen its relationships with neighbouring Solomon Islands.
He said this after meeting Solomon Islands' Governor-General, His Excellency Sir David Vunagi, in Honiara on Thursday evening (pictured) .
The occasion marked PM Marape's first bilateral visit to Solomon Islands.
"Our two countries are bound by our rich Melanesian cultural heritage, our maritime border and shared Christian and democratic values hence, my first visit to our closest Pacific Island neighbor, Solomon Islands to renew and strengthen our neighborly ties and cooperation, a key strategy of Papua New Guinea's foreign policy, " he said.
"The people-to-people linkages since pre-independence days has seen Solomon Islands missionaries contribute to peace and harmony by spreading Christianity in Papua New Guinea.
" The post-independence era has seen both our countries work hand-in-hand alongside our Pacific neighbors in assisting to restore peace in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and in the Solomon Islands and other neighboring countries in recent times.
" This is a testament to our common desire to maintain, peace, harmony, unity and stabiliy in our region.
" Our discussions therefore on protecting our sovereignity, our borders and the sustainable management of our resources particulaly fisheries, forestry and agriculture, amongst others is vital for the long term economic benefit of our people and future generations."
PM Marape said educating the human resources of the two nations was also essential to nation-building and to their successes as nations.
" I am pleased with our discussions on educational opportunities for our citizens, " he said.
" I will be discussing with the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare, ways we can continue to provide more opportunities for Solomon Island students to study in tertiary institutions in Papua New Guinea.
"I will also promote the establishment of the PNG/Solomon Islands Alumni Association so we can maintain the network and friendships created through education."
PM Marape said it was his intention to deepen trade, investment and economic links between the two countries.
" There is huge economic potential in Solomon Islands and I will be encouraging my delegation, comprising mainly of people from the private sector, to engage with their Solomon Islands counterparts, in our combined efforts to grow our economies,."
PM Marape thanked Sir David for the Solomon Islands' hospitality.
" Let me take this moment to express my most humble appreciation for the hospitalities extended to my delegation and I when I visited you'" he said.
" It was a privilege to meet with you.
" I wish to therefore extend, on behalf of the Government and people of Papua New Guinea, our best wishes to you during your term as the Governor-General of Solomon Islands."