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Papua New Guinea and Australia have reached another milestone in their bilateral relationship with the signing of a memorandum of understanding for a joint initiative at Lombrum naval base.
The MoU, known as the Lombrum Joint Initiative, was signed in Canberra last Friday by Defence Secretaries Trevor Meauri and Greg Moriaety (Australia), and chiefs Major General Gilbert Toropo and General Angus Campbell (Australia).
Meauri said the MoU formalises the joint announcement by Prime Ministers Peter O’Neill and Scott Morrison on November 1 last year.
“It is a defence-to-defence understanding and helps to guide the collaboration between the two countries to redevelop facilities at Lombrum naval base,” Meauri said.
He said the initiative would increase interoperability between the two defence forces and provide greater opportunities for training and joint activities.
Meauri said it would also enhance PNG Defence Force capability to protect PNG’s borders and maritime resources through a broad program of mentoring, tailored training, and infrastructure development.
“We recently acquired the Pacific Guardian class patrol boats for our navy. We have to upgrade our facilities to accommodate these bigger modern boats. That is what we will do under this MoU in Lombrum.”
He said it was a step up from the existing Defence Cooperation Program between the two countries.
Meauri said he and Defence Minister Solan Mirisim met with Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin and Parliament Speaker Job Pomat last month to clarify the meaning of the joint initiative at the Lombrum naval base.
He said he was available to discuss the initiative with other community leaders from Manus.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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