Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has assured Papua New Guinea that no laws of the country are broken or will be required to be amended as a result of the proposed Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the United States of America.

He said this in response to commentaries in international media claiming that laws of the country were being broken or would be required to be amended as a result of the proposed DCA.

“Contrary to many commentaries, including in foreign media, let me assure my people that the Section 206 provisions of our Constitution and the Visiting (Foreign) Force Act 1975, were used to propose an agreement for the Pentagon to deal directly with Murray Barracks. I want to assure our people that local and international sponsors, with vested interests, are hard at work with ‘cut-and-paste’ opinions that are contrary to the truth, text and spirit of the DCA – which was done transparently through due processes since 2015.

Considering our nation’s exposure to domestic resource theft and insecurities, as well as our interest to protect our sovereign borders, we had to tap into an existing relationship with the U.S military and upgrade it to a direct and better relationship.”

PM Marape said PNG had always had military relationships with the USA since 1989.

“For the record, we have always had a relationship with the U.S military, just like we have with Australia, New Zealand, France and United Kingdom – all under an umbrella agreement called Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) of 1989. We are now moving ahead with a specific DCA to upgrade our relationship with USA just like we have with Australia, Indonesia and others. I want to assure all that the proposed DCA will not offend our country’s law and we will not be changing any laws to implement it.”

PM Marape said contrary to other insinuations, there was no immunity for criminal conduct of visiting U.S forces, and all assets developed under this agreement would be owned by the PNG Defence Force.

“The U.S military will only operate with approval from our military. This agreement is for 15 years and we can terminate the agreement with one-year notice to USA. Under the DCA and the Ship Rider Agreement, our navy and pilots will be trained by the U.S military. All U.S planes and ships in PNG will have our soldiers on deck in operations. The DCA does not stop us from working with all other nations, including China, and this DCA respects our principle and core foreign policy of ‘friends to all, enemies to none’,” he said.

“Over the last 48 years since independence in 1975, we have watched our military erode, and the time has come for us to rebuild it. Today, USA – the biggest military in the world – wants to come in a big way, including infrastructure development and capacity building for our national defence.We are doing this within the context of national interests,” said Marape.