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Australia, PNG set to ink defence pact during visit

Dominic Giannini -

A new defence agreement is poised to be signed when Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape is hosted by Anthony Albanese.

The two leaders will meet in Canberra on Thursday when the delayed agreement is expected to be inked.

Australia had hoped to have the pact signed in the first half of the year but it was delayed after a backlash in PNG, when a similar agreement with the United States caused a domestic uproar about a loss of sovereignty.

PNG will recruit Australian police officers in key positions as part of the deal, according to Reuters, who cited Minister of State Justin Tkatchenko.

The pact will also span defence and biosecurity.

The Pacific island nation and Australia's closest northern neighbour has been struggling with tribal violence in its highland region.

Mr Marape at one stage instructed police and military to use lethal force to curb the violence if necessary.

Australia has been looking to bolster its security arrangements in the Pacific after China signed a policing pact with the Solomon Islands.

There are concerns in Canberra about China securing a foothold in the region.

with Reuters

Dominic Giannini - AAP

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