PM welcomes US delegation

National, Normal

BILATERAL cooperation, regional and international issues, including the Coral Triangle Initiative and Climate Change are on Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare’s agenda with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton this afternoon.
Sir Michael announced he was eager to meet Mrs Clinton this afternoon and extended his welcome to her and her delegation.
His eagerness stemmed from the fact that this was the first time a senior US government official was holding formal meetings with the heads of Government and State since diplomatic relations were set with the United States in 1975.
Former US secretary of state Madeline Albright had a stop over in 1998 but that was hasty. 
“On behalf of the Government and people of Papua New Guinea, I extend a warm welcome to Mrs Clinton and her delegation to our shores,” Sir Michael said yesterday.
“This is a significant achievement for PNG with this high profile visit to the country.
“We have always been a people that welcome visitors with open arms and I urge everyone to once again ensure that the state secretary’s visit is successful and memorable,” Sir Michael said.
“Apart from being first lady for 12 years, Mrs Clinton has been a successful advocate, attorney and senator in her own right.
“As such, Mrs Clinton has a keen interest in social and welfare issues.
“She will have the opportunity during her visit to also speak to women leaders on issues affecting women.
“It is important to note also that in recent years our total trade (import/export) with the largest economy in the world, the US has gone from K619 million in 2004, to a record total trade volume of K2,156 million in 2008.
“Through the establishment of our LNG projects and the recent foreign direct investment of US$3 billion, the US is now PNG’s second largest trading partner,” Sir Michael said.