Papua New Guinea Parliament will continue debating the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between Papua New Guinea and the United States at a later sitting.

Prime Minister James Marape tabled both the DCA and the Ship Rider Agreement in Parliament

In his ministerial statement, Marape noted the uneasy feeling from citizens as well as a number of MPs towards the DCA and assured them that it did not compromise the country’s sovereignty “in any shape or form”.

“The U.S has always been a strategic development partner of choice in all aspects of bilateral ties, be it trade and investment (or) development assistance,” he said.

He said the agreement would expand on how both countries would relate to each other and help facilitate cooperation in a defence-related setting.

He added that the agreement would allow the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to train with the U.S military, learn from them, exchange information and allow them to procure arms and sophisticated military technology.

“This agreement includes a development cooperation aspect which would enable U.S forces to refurbish and develop infrastructure for dual use within certain seaports and airports within PNG,” he said.

“The DCA seeks to provide the legal framework to enable conduct of these activities within the confines of PNG law.”

Other MPs, including Opposition Leader Joseph Lelang and Ialibu-Pangia MP and former prime minister Peter O’Neill felt the House needed time to read through the agreement before it was sealed.

Lelang argued that the agreement should have been made available beforehand so that MPs could read through it and get a fair idea of the benefits and the potential problems that the country may be faced with.

O’Neill pointed out that there was little to no specificity on what we were getting from the U.S in the agreement and what we would be giving them.

“I can’t see anything about training or investment into specific infrastructure,” he said.

He urged the Government to careful with what they were signing the nation up for.

Gary Juffa, Northern Governor said: I don’t think there is an issue with the DCA and Ship Rider Agreement. I think PNG stands to benefit significantly.