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Visit to Papua New Guinea



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

- V AUSTRALIA,^

FA52 28 APR 1998

VISIT TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA

I will visit Papua New Guinea between 29 April - 1 May to attend the ceremony marking the signature of the Bougainville ceasefire implementation agreement on 30 April at Arawa.

I will hold talks with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Mr Bill Skate, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Roy Yaki, as well as with various Bougainvillean leaders and ministerial colleagues from Fiji, New Zealand, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, who will be attending the ceremony.

My presence at the ceremony underlines the importance the Australian Government attaches to a negotiated settlement between the Government of Papua New Guinea and the various Bougainvillean parties. I give the highest priority to the achievement of lasting peace on Bougainville. The Australian Government will continue to assist the commendable efforts of all the parties to pursue dialogue and cooperation.

The ceremony is an important opportunity for parties to the conflict to build on the significant progress achieved in the peace process over the past ten months.

My attendance at the signing ceremony follows Australia’s recent hosting of the Canberra Technical Meeting (9-14 March 1998) where representatives of all the parties to the Bougainville conflict negotiated arrangements for the implementation of the permanent ceasefire agreed at Lincoln in late January 1998.

Australia, through the Australian Defence Force, organised transport for the delegates attending the meeting in Lincoln, as well as for the meetings in Christchurch last year. In late November, Australia also hosted peace talks in Cairns which resulted in the "Cairns Commitment", an important milestone in the peace process.

Australia stands ready to continue to support reconstruction on Bougainville. In August 1997 I committed $100 million over five years for reconstruction and rehabilitation on Bougainville to come from within our aid program with Papua New Guinea, which is in addition to the existing commitment of over $32 million.

HANOI

For further information: Innes Willox 0411 414 695

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