Thursday 20th April 2023
Papua New Guinea today signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United Kingdom for strengthening security and maintaining bilateral relations between the two countries , as well as the Pacific region.
The Agreement was signed between UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, The ,Rt. Hon. James Cleverly and PNG’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Justin Tkatchenko at the Central Government in Port Moresby.
Minister Tkatchenko said the agreement will have a more easier relationship when dealing with defense related matters, and training among other aspects.
The event was historical as it was the first time for a British Cabinet Minister to visit Papua New Guinea to strengthen bilateral relations and ties between both countries.
State Secretary Cleverly said the agreement demonstrates that this relationship is not just one of the long standing friendship but a genuine partnership, where mutual security is important.
He said this will allow both country’s desire to work closely together on the mutual benefits and interest.
“The agreement has its long term benefits to improve economy prosperity and independence and others including down stream processing. “Secretary Cleverly said.
“UK will now play a role in this agreement to help assist and train PNG’s Defense Forces through many other activities that the UK has in terms of security in the region,” he added.
Secretary Cleverly said UK has always talked about the importance of its relations with the region but talking from a far is not the same of actually being here and demonstrating its commitment to the region.
On behalf of the UK government and the British people, Secretary Cleverly thanked PNG for the condolences of the passing of Late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and in returned passed their condolences for the recent death of PNG’s former Prime Minister Sir Rabbie Langanai Namaliu.
Secretary Cleverly reiterated that PNG and UK’s partnership enables the protection of the natural environment, fisheries whilst ensuring that PNG is able to retain more of the economic benefit from its own natural resources, minerals and crops including moving from polluting energy sources to Green energy sources.
With that the UK government is funding 4.5 Million pound to help communities in Papua New Guinea to access green energy.
PNG is recognized as one of the key realms of the Commonwealth as well as the important partner in the Pacific Region.
While on his visit , Mr Cleverly also visited Hanuabada village and Port Moresby General Hospital, which have benefited from UK-funded programs.
Mr Cleverly also paid respects to over 400 UK soldiers at the Bomana War Cemetery, outside of Port Moresby, before departing the country.
This is Secretary Cleverley’s first visit to PNG and the Pacific region. He leaves for Solomons Islands then onto Samoa yesterday.