Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and defence minister Richard Marles says his government’s foreign policy on Bougainville remains unchanged.
Marles made the clarification after Ishmael Toroama, President of the Autonomous Bougainville government (ABG) accused the Australian Minister of “veiled threats” and “intimidation” over comments made during his recent visit to Papua New Guinea.
Toroama accused Australia of supporting PNG over Bougainville aspiration of his people for independence.
Richard Marles was asked to respond to ABG President Ishmael Toroama’s concerns during an interview with Fiji media Friday.
Marles emphasised Australia remains committed to the Bougainville peace agreement.
“Australia was a witness to the Bougainvillle peace agreement more than 20 years ago. And as such, we are completely committed to the processes contained within the Bougainville peace agreement.
“And nothing I said was intended to signal any change in Australian policy over a long period of time, in respect of that. The political settlement that will ultimately be reached by all parties to that agreement is one that Australia will obviously support. And that’s where Australia stands. And that’s where we’ve always stood,” Marles said while responding to question from PACNEWS.
Concerns have been raised in Papua New Guinea that if Bougainville gains independence other provinces in the country will follow suit it.