Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape says the Indian Government has helped to meet the cost for all 18 leaders in the Pacific region to meet in Port Moresby next week.

Marape said: “Eighteen Pacific leaders will be here. The Indian Government has paid for their tickets.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was expected to attend the third Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) Summit in Port Moresby. Modi was also expected to hold a bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Marape as well as leaders from the Pacific Island Countries.

He would be in Port Moresby on 22 May and then fly to Sydney, Australia for the QUAD Summit.

Marape said Papua New Guinea, being bigger in terms of land mass and population, would advocate for issues concerning the region.

“The smaller Pacific Island nations are exposed to climate change and rise in sea level, their economies are struggling so we need to advocate for them also,” he said.

The pool of resources we (Pacific region) own, our fish for instance, we want to organise a united front to protect the interests of the Pacific island nations.

“PNG will be campaigning to ensure that fish caught in our waters are processed in the Pacific, on this issue we are asking both U.S and India to come and assist us.

“It is in the Pacific’s interest to protect our resources and collectively we want to sell to the global markets,” Marape said.

“The Pacific Island bloc will stand as one voice to advocate for our interests on the issues that are are of immediate concern.

“Such as climate charge and economic development of our nations,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in micro small to medium enterprises (MSMES) between India and Papua New Guinea is one of many issues expected to be discussed between Prime Minister James Marape and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Marape, who is also acting Foreign Affairs Minister, made this known in a statement on Saturday, saying PNG is ready to host Modi on 21-22 May in Port Moresby.
He said the National Executive Council had endorsed possible deliverables to be formalised when Modi visited.

Marape said some of the possible deliverables included: Reciprocal visa-on-arrival arrangements, visa exemption agreement for diplomatic and official passport holders, cultural exchange programme (CEP), MOU’s among others including between the election commissions of India and PNG, the state-owned Indian broadcaster Prasar Bharati and National Broadcasting Corporation PNG, foreign office consultation, on Information and Communication Technology cooperation and various proposals on assistance to be given by India to PNG.

The non-implemented MOUs are: on the K353 million (US$99 million) line of credit from Exim Bank of India signed in April 2016 for the construction of Madang-Baiyer Road and Kimbe-Hoskins Road; on cooperation in the fields of health care and medical science signed in April 2016 and on the K530 million (US$149 million) line of credit signed in September 2019 at the FIPIC Summit.

“Cabinet has directed the Department of Foreign Affairs to liaise with relevant sectoral agencies and departments to ensure the above deliverables are ready on time to be announced during my meeting with Prime Minister Modi.” Marape said.