The National, Thursday 16th May 2013
PAPUA New Guinea will host the South Pacific defence ministers’ meeting next year.
This was decided at the inaugural meeting in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, on May 1-2.
PNG was represented by Defence Minister Dr Fabian Pok and commander Brig-Gen Francis Agwi.
The theme of the inaugural meeting was “enhancing regional security cooperation”.
Discussions focused on improving security cooperation and interoperability among South Pacific defence forces through information-sharing, combined exercises, common approaches and maritime security cooperation.
Pok said: “It is in our national interest that we strengthen our relations with our partner defence forces. The inaugural meeting was a tremendous success.
“The communique presents initiatives that will enhance security cooperation in our region, and the proposal to host the 2014 meeting in PNG presents an ideal opportunity for us to further strengthen our regional security architecture.
“I will be submitting proposals to the National Executive Council for PNG to host the meeting in 2014.”
Delegates to the Tongan meeting included Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith, Australian parliamentary secretary for defence David Feeney, chief of the Australian Defence Force Gen David Hurley, New Zealand Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman, chief of the New Zealand Defence Force Gen Rhys Jones, French Ambassador to Tonga Gilles Montagnier; commander of the French armed forces in New Caledonia Brig-Gen Jean-Francois Parlanti, Chile’s vice-minister for defence Oscar Izurieta and Chile’s armed forces chief Air Marshal Roland Mercado.