PNG, US sign security agreements

National

By LULU MARK
AN arrangement has been signed to continue negotiations over three important security agreements between the United States and PNG.
It was made onboard the US naval ship USS Michael Murphy in Port Moresby.
Commanding officer Kevin Louis said the USS Michael Murphy and her crew of 350 were deployed to the western Pacific to preserve security, maintain regional stability and enhance relationships between partners and friends.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to visit Port Moresby and honoured to host the signing agreement between the US and PNG,” Louis said.
The three agreements include the 505 agreement, ship-rider agreement and over-flight clearance agreement. The 505 agreement will allow the countries to have more exchange of information and give PNG access to American materials.
Local law enforcement officers and civilians will enter and/or travel in US ships within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to help patrol and monitor the waters and exchange information following the ship-rider agreement.
There are a lot of activities by the US military in the Pacific, hence the over-flight clearance agreement will allow them to expand the over-flight clearance process, enabling it to be faster and efficient.
US ambassador Catherine Ebert-Grey said the agreements would cement the security relationship of both countries.
“In the long term, the opportunity for US activities such as training, exchange of information and materials equipment will be increased,” Ebert-Gray said.
“This will allow the countries to work together to secure the air, sea and land of PNG. United States has a long and enduring relationship with the country, going back as far as World War Two.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato said the signing would further enhance the relationship between the US government and PNG in trade and investment.
“These security agreements are important as we are the biggest country in the Pacific, with 40 per cent of the tuna resource that feeds the world, third largest
forest reserve and the closest connection to South-East Asia,” Pato said.
“Like the US, we value democracy, the rule of law, human rights and religious freedom.
“Currently, the US is providing welcome assistance to PNG as host of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and PNG is looking forward with excitement to the visit of Vice-President Mike Pence.”
Pato said he was pleased to sign an agreement which would allow the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to access more US security assistance, including equipment and training.

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