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PNG PM arrives in Australia after deadly riots, unrest

Dominic Giannini -

Papua New Guinea's prime minister is in Australia after deadly riots broke out in his country and security talks with China stirred controversy.

James Marape lands in Canberra on Wednesday for a three-day visit where he will enjoy an official dinner at Parliament House before addressing a joint sitting of parliament on Thursday.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese lauded the relationship as the leaders sought to build on security and economic partnerships.

"As close neighbours and regional leaders, our security and prosperity are bound together," he said.

Mr Albanese was the first foreign leader to address PNG's parliament in January 2023.

Mr Marape's visit comes after he declared a state of emergency following deadly riots last month and Australia was called to assist in the form of a contracted helicopter and accommodation for more police to fly into the capital and quell the unrest.

He also faces the prospect of political turmoil after several PNG MPs resigned from government and called for him to step down as the grace period for a no-confidence motion against a prime minister after an election nears expiry.

Canberra and Port Moresby inked a new security pact when Mr Marape last visited in December.

The agreement outlined $200 million to help train PNG police as the Pacific nation aims to almost double the number of officers to 10,000 by 2027.

PNG Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko met with Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Pacific Minister Pat Conroy in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Tkatchenko recently walked back comments about talking to China about a policing pact.

China reportedly approached PNG in September and talks resumed in January after the deadly riots.

PNG remained committed to its long-term security agreement with Australia, Mr Tkatchenko said.

"We will maintain that going forward now and into the future," he last week.

Australia also continues to mull supporting an NRL team in the Pacific nation.

"I was up there in September for the Prime Minister's XIII, their stadium holds 16,000, it was louder than any State of Origin or rugby league match," Mr Conroy told Newcastle radio station 2HD.

"We're in a geostrategic competition in the Pacific and how we win it is through our people-to-people connection because we've got lots of Pacific Islanders working in Australia as well."

Dominic Giannini - AAP


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