Ties strengthened with New Zealand

National, Normal

PAPUA New Guinea and New Zealand agreed to work together for mutual benefits at bilateral, regional and international levels on issues of common interest.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal and his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully met in Queenstown, New Zealand, last Wednesday for the 6th Ministerial Consultation between the two countries.
Issues raised in the discussions included training and cooperation in areas such as agriculture and livestock development, fisheries, PNG foreign service training, trade and investment, Prime Minister Somare’s visit to New Zealand in April, air services, seasonal employment and sports cooperation.
On fisheries, Mr McCully said the development cooperation assistance would focus on training and capacity building, and to encourage New Zealand’s private sector investment in the fishing industry.
On foreign service training, Mr Abal requested his counterpart to consider a longer time period for the training programme.
Mr McCully said the recognised seasonal employment  scheme was demand driven and welcomed PNG’s interest.
Both ministers discussed the ongoing work between PNG and Australia on the Australian pacific seasonal worker pilot scheme.
Keeping in step with the Government’s efforts to promote sports as a means to develop youth programmes in PNG, Mr Abal accepted New Zealand’s offer to provide a rugby union coach.
The Pacific Islands Forum, Melanesian Spearhead Group and Fiji were also discussed in the meeting.
Mr McCully acknowledged PNG’s role in the region and appreciated the continuing efforts by PNG in maintaining dialogue with Fiji.
Mr Abal met with members of the PNG/New Zealand business council prior to consultation.
He invited them to visit PNG to explore opportunities presented by the LNG project and other sectors of the economy.