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Australia, PNG work to ink delayed defence pact

Dominic Giannini -

Australia and Papua New Guinea will continue to look to wrap up negotiations over a new defence security pact.

Defence Minister Richard Marles hosted his PNG counterpart Win Bakri Daki in Geelong on Thursday.

In a statement released following the meeting, they "committed to continuing to support bilateral security treaty negotiations and looked forward to the timely completion of negotiations".

"The two ministers reaffirmed the deep and broad defence partnership between Papua New Guinea and Australia, which forms a key part of our Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership," the statement reads.

They also welcomed increased opportunities for the Australian Defence Force and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to work together and strengthen ties.

This included PNGDF's inaugural participation in Exercise Talisman Sabre.

The delayed defence pact was initially slated to be signed by the middle of the year before a separate agreement between the United States and PNG sparked internal divisions in the Pacific nation over the potential loss of sovereignty.

It led to PNG pausing the Australian treaty and going back to the drawing board.

Mr Marles said Canberra and Port Moresby shared a unique and deep defence relationship that was underpinned by close people-to-people ties.

Discussions spanned the defence relationship, including regional military exercises, as well as humanitarian support following a volcanic eruption.

A new Guardian-class patrol boat was also handed over to the PNG defence minister during an earlier visit to the HMAS Sterling navy base in Western Australia.

The boats are used to tackle illegal and unreported fishing and surveillance activities.

Dominic Giannini - AAP

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