Australia has committed to training Papua New Guinea (PNG) police as part of a comprehensive security deal signed recently. PNG’s Prime Minister, James Marape, emphasized that the deal, which involves a $200 million Australian investment in PNG’s national security priorities, does not indicate a choice between China and the West amid growing geopolitical rivalries in the Pacific. The agreement covers various areas, including defense, law and justice, cybersecurity, climate, and combating violence against women and children.
Key components of the agreement include:
- Security Cooperation: Australia and PNG will prioritize consultations on PNG’s security needs, with a focus on police equipment. The deal aims to strengthen cooperation in defense, police, and law and justice.
- Training Center: Australia will allocate funds to establish a police recruit and investigations training center in Port Moresby. This facility is intended to provide training not only to PNG police but also to personnel from other Pacific countries.
- Sovereignty and Security Response: The agreement includes provisions for responding to security-related developments that threaten the sovereignty, peace, or stability of either party or the Pacific region. In the event of an external armed attack, the countries will consult to determine appropriate measures.
- Coordination with Other Countries: While the agreement does not prevent PNG from cooperating with other nations on security assistance, it specifies coordination between Australia and PNG regarding the involvement and contribution of third parties.
- Status of Forces: The deal guarantees that the status of Australian and PNG forces in each other’s country will be “no less favorable than would be afforded to personnel from other countries.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the agreement as legally binding and a natural progression in the relationship between the two countries. He highlighted the support for policing infrastructure and training that Australia would provide, making it easier for both countries to address internal needs and contribute to regional stability.
PNG previously signed a security treaty with the United States earlier in the year but maintains a policy of being friends to all and enemies to none. The new security agreement with Australia is significant for both nations and aims to foster cooperation in addressing shared security challenges in the Pacific region.