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Australian to command peace monitoring group on Bougainville



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JOINT M E D IA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, ALEXANDER DOWNER MINISTER FOR DEFENCE, IAN M cLAC H LAN , A O -lj> AUSTRALIA,,^

FA53 30 April 1998

AUSTRALIA TO COMMAND PEACE MONITORING GROUP ON BOUGAINVILLE

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, and the Minister for Defence, Mr McLachlan, today said they were delighted that the Government of Papua New Guinea had invited Australia to command the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) on Bougainville. The Papua New Guinea Government informed Mr Downer yesterday in Port Moresby that, after consulting other parties to the Bougainville dispute, it had agreed that Australia should lead the PMG.

"I am very pleased that the parties have placed their confidence in Australia by inviting us to < ■ '· command the PMG," Mr Downer said. "It will enable us to support the peace process even more strongly."

Australia has already contributed about 100 personnel to the Truce Monitoring Group (TMG), which has been on Bougainville since December last year. New Zealand commanded the TMG and provided the bulk of the logistic support for its operation.

"We are very pleased that New Zealand, as well as Fiji and Vanuatu, will continue to make an important contribution in taking forward the peace process," Mr Downer said. The two ministers also warmly welcomed the significant role the Solomon Islands has undertaken in chairing talks in the peace process.

The PMG will initially consist of about 300 personnel, including 90 peace monitors and about 200 support personnel. Between 240-250 of the PMG's personnel will be Australians. The New Zealand Defence Force will provide 30 people and Fiji and Vanuatu 15 each. Australia will also supply substantial assets to the operation, including three helicopters, a dedicated

landing craft, small boats and vehicles. All PMG personnel will be unarmed.

The PMG will continue the excellent work of the TMG: monitoring the ceasefire, increasing awareness of the peace process and providing a neutral presence which will help the parties to discuss important issues regarding the future of Bougainville.

'.Australia and the other countries contributing to the PMG can help to provide an environment on Bougainville which allows the parties to consolidate the peace they have so far achieved. Hut we cannot impose a peace on Bougainville. That is a task which the parties must continue to undertake themselves. We wish them well, we stand ready to help and we congratulate them on the foresight, courage and flexibility which they have demonstrated so far.

The commander of the PMG will be Brigadier Bruce Osborn from the ADF. His Senior Adviser will be Mr Greg Moriarty, an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Media releases and speeches are available from DFAT via the internet, http://www.dfat.gov.au/