By ISAAC NICHOLAS
PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare and Indonesian president Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will hold bilateral discussions this morning to further existing relations.
This will be followed by the signing of two memoranda of understanding and exchange of letters at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The two countries will sign the Defence Coooperation Agreement, Double Taxation Agreement and Letters of Exchange in Agriculture.
Sir Michael and Dr Yudhoyono are also likely to touch on climate change and regional stability through groups such as Asean where Indonesia is supporting PNG’s move to become a full member.
The Garuda Airlines plane carrying the presidential delegation touched down at 3pm yesterday and Dr Yudhoyono and first lady Ani Bambang Yudhoyono were given red carpet treatment and traditional welcome by local dancers. Hundreds of people gathered at the airport to catch a glimpse of the Indonesian leader while school children lined the airport area waving PNG and Indonesian flags.
Dr Yudhoyono, on his first visit to PNG, was greeted with a 21-gun salute as soon as his foot touched PNG soil, arriving from Sydney, Australia, after a three-day visit there.
The president and Mrs Yudhoyono were met by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal, Internal Security Minister Sani Rambi, Defence Minister Bob Dadae, Provincial Affairs Minister Job Pomat and Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma.
Dr Yudhoyono was then invited by PNG Defence Force commander Brig-Gen Francis Augwi to inspect a PNGDF guard of honour before leaving for Airways Hotel.
The president and his wife later paid a courtesy call on Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane and Lady Kaludia at Government House.
The delegation included 13 government ministers and three members of parliament. Last night, there was a formal dinner at Crowne Plaza for the economic and trade ministers and officials attended by Commerce Minister Gabriel Kapris.
The official visit ends today when the 200-member delegation leaves at 12.30pm for Indonesia.