Committed to strengthening relations

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The National, Thursday February 6th, 2014

 AUSTRALIAN Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says she is committed to making her country’s relationship with Papua New Guinea its highest foreign policy priority.

She said this yesterday when asked to comment on a commitment she made two years when she visited as Australian shadow foreign minister.

“Two years ago, I said that should I become the Foreign Minister of Australia, our relationship with PNG would be one of our highest foreign policy priorities,” Bishop said.

“I stand here today, on my first visit to Papua New Guinea as the Foreign Minister of Australia, and reaffirm the commitment that the Australia-PNG relationship is one of our highest foreign policy priorities.

“I’m determined that we enhance our relationship with the status of an economic and strategic partnership.

“There are many initiatives, many frameworks, many agreements between us but we need to ensure that we treat each other with mutual respect, that we build on the level of engagement that already exists.

“There’s a myriad of connections between Australia and Papua New Guinea, but ultimately, our aim is to get together to ensure that the people of Australia and Papua New Guinea live in peace and prosperity, side-by-side as close friends, as close neighbours, as economic and strategic partners.

“I have had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and we had a productive discussion about a range of issues.

“I’ve had the opportunity to have an extensive meeting with the Foreign Minister, Attorney-General and ministers for National Planning and Works,” she said.

This is Bishop’s fourth visit to the country. 

She will travel to Lae today.