Australian army chief starts visit

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday October 16th, 2013

 AUSTRALIAN army chief Lt-Gen David Morrison began a four-day visit to Papua New Guinea yesterday.

He was due to meet with senior defence and security officials in Port Moresby and discuss priorities for engagement under the Australia-PNG defence cooperation programme.  

Morrison will visit the Olgeta Warriors exercise in Port Moresby, Wewak and Lae. 

Head of Australian defence staff in PNG Col Dick Parker, said that: “Australia’s relationship with PNG is one of the most important, and Morrison will affirm our commitment to deepening our long-standing defence relationship through our growing defence cooperation programme.”

Morrison noted the shared strategic interests in a safe and secure region, with exercises like Olgeta Warrior enabling the troops to maintain skills and relationships they had developed by working together during the regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands.

Morrison’s visit builds on the defence cooperation arrangement signed earlier this year by Prime Minister  Peter O’Neill and then-Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, which committed both countries to a progressive, forward-looking defence partnership. 

In recognition on the importance of this partnership, Australia is enhancing its defence cooperation programme with PNG, already Australia’s largest such programme with any country.